Imperial has been selected as one of 64 institutions to receive up to £50,000 of HEFCE Catalyst funding from the Student Safeguarding fund. This is part of the £2.45 million released by HEFCE for projects addressing sexual harassment on campus following the report from Universities UK’s Harassment Taskforce on the need for universities and colleges to do more to tackle the problem.

The funding has been released to develop and implement approaches to prevent and address sexual harassment and violence in universities and further education colleges. Projects were selected based on a range of criteria including their ability to deliver key activities and partnerships with students’ unions and develop excellent transferable good practice for the benefit of students and institutions across higher education.

Other criteria for the projects included the ability to develop the ‘bystander’ initiative, which trains staff and students in preventing or reducing violence against women and hate crimes, particularly among students. Another key goal of the funding is to develop systems improvements, training packages, and partnership working models to drive real change in this area.

The report from the Universities UK Taskforce summarises the evidence considered by them to examine violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students. The report goes on to make recommendations for both universities and Universities UK that cover prevention activities and how universities can respond to issues more effectively.

In the words of Emily-Jane Cramphorn, this new funding means that “Starting imminently we will be putting our plan into action, which aims to create a coherent, effective and multi-faceted institutional response to sexual violence. In short, it will involve the development of a sexual violence liaison officer network, training of student-facing staff to handle disclosure appropriately and active bystander workshops for key student and staff groups such as Hall Seniors and bar staff.”

After some unexpectedly negative responses to the DPW securing funding for consent training software earlier in the year, hopefully student support will be stronger for this new initiative.