The University has received £16,500 from HEFCE to fund its forthcoming “Safeguarding Against Sexual Violence” project.

Exeter’s commitment to safety on campus strengthened through funding boost

The University of Exeter’s commitment to student safety on campus has been further strengthened, thanks to a funding boost.

The University has received £16,500 from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to fund its forthcoming “Safeguarding Against Sexual Violence” project, which will be initiated on the Streatham Campus, but will inform practice across all the University’s campuses.

The project is one of more than 60 nationwide schemes, organised by universities and colleges and which seek to address concerns about sexual violence and harassment on campuses, to receive part of the £2.45 million total funding.

The grants, from HEFCE’s Catalyst Fund, were issued in response to a report by the Universities UK Harassment Task Force which explored the nature and scale of the problem in higher education, and for institutions to respond more effectively. The projects have been developed with students, who will have pivotal roles in their delivery.

Working in partnership with University of Exeter Students’ Guild and Devon Rape Crisis, the new project will feature a range of initiatives, including increased provisions for peer-to-peer support networks, developing and facilitating additional training for student leaders and staff, and delivering a high-profile campaign relating to consent and harassment within the student community.

The project is set to begin in April 2017, and last for 12 months.

Ian Blenkharn, Director of Education and Student Experience from the University of Exeter and who has been part of establishing the project said: “The University is pleased to have been awarded this funding which will support this important project which we are delivering in partnership with the Students’ Guild. Incidents of harassment, hate crime and sexual violence can happen anywhere, and working with the Students’ Guild and FXU we will be able to raise awareness amongst the student community and provide training for staff and student leaders across all our campuses”.

Alec James, Vice-President for Welfare and Community from the University of Exeter Students’ Guild, said: “We are delighted to receive this funding and to further this vital work with our members. The projects we will be able to run, in partnership with the University and local community, represent practical solutions to the serious issue of sexual harassment in Exeter. It will allow us to continue to put concrete steps in place following the #NeverOk campaign to make our campuses and the city safer places for our students”

HEFCE Chief Executive, Professor Madeleine Atkins, said: “All students should feel safe and supported during their time in higher education. Universities and colleges are working hard to tackle issues of sexual harassment and violence on campus, but there is more to be done. Their determination and commitment is evident in the overwhelmingly positive response to HEFCE’s Catalyst Fund call.

“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."

The Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Jo Johnson, said: "We take any form of violence and sexual harassment extremely seriously, and expect universities to take a zero-tolerance approach.

"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."

Date: 14 March 2017

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