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University Awarded Funding to Share Best Practice in Tackling Gender-Based Violence on UK Campuses

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An initiative developed by the University of Worcester to help UK universities address concerns about sexual violence and harassment on campus, has received a major funding boost.

The University has been granted £49,720 from the university regulator, the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s (HEFCE) Catalyst Fund to roll out its Bystander Intervention Development project.

The project aims to enhance students’ ability to recognise behaviour and attitudes which enable gender-based violence and give them the confidence to challenge such behaviour.

The University of Worcester is a leader in education and research in this field, through its National Centre for the Study and Prevention of Violence and Abuse (NCSPVA) and has an excellent track record of ensuring student safety.

This funding will allow the University to share its expertise and best practice with other universities in response to a report by the Universities UK Harassment Task Force, which explored sexual violence and harassment on campus in UK higher education institutions, and highlighted the need for more effective responses.

The University, with help from Worcester Students’ Union, will look to evaluate and improve reporting and recording procedures for incidents of gender-based violence, further encourage disclosure and clarify the next steps.

In addition, an induction training package will be developed to raise awareness of such violence, outlining the University’s policies and zero tolerance approach. This would be delivered to all students at the beginning of each academic year.

University of Worcester’s Pro Vice Chancellor Students, Ross Renton, said: “The University has demonstrated its commitment to the development of an inclusive campus through a range of policies, procedures and initiatives over time. Worcester was innovative in the early introduction of a University Policy on Domestic Abuse, Sexual Violence and Stalking in 2015.

“The Bystander Intervention project has already been piloted, so the expertise and materials are in place, and the project will allow us to build on that position, sharing that expertise more widely across the UK.

“The Project will help students to develop their knowledge, skills and understanding around their response to gender-based violence, including the reporting procedure. This will have the benefit of developing and promoting a safe and secure campus environment, where students feel confident in terms of what behaviour is expected of themselves and others, and know their options for how to respond to unacceptable behaviour.

“It is also hoped that the induction package, once tested, could be of wider benefit to the sector.”

HEFCE Chief Executive, Professor Madeleine Atkins, said: “We are delighted to be supporting a range of innovative projects, and we will be looking to share good practice and evidence of successful outcomes over the coming months."

Universities Minister, Jo Johnson, added: “The interest and response to HEFCE’s fund has been hugely encouraging. The number of projects announced and the support shown reinforces the willingness of universities, across the country, to support staff and students in providing safe and secure campuses and I look forward to seeing the impact of these projects in due course.”