Tackling Sexual Violence and Harassment in Higher Education

further & higher education

09:00 - 16:00

Thursday 30 November 2017

Hallam Conference Centre, Central London

This Forum provides attendees with the opportunity to hear from Universities UK regarding the new recommendations for tackling sexual violence and harassment within universities. Participants will learn from key organisations within the sector regarding the latest policy recommendations and listen to those at the forefront of implementing clear and effective policies to report sexual assault and harassment. In addition they will gain insights and lessons from student groups and institutions leading the way in implementing successful education and prevention initiatives.


This Forum is specifically designed for Higher Education including Vice Chancellors, Heads of Student Experience, Heads of Student Support, Heads of Resolution, Heads of Student Services, Counsellors, Training Co-ordinators, Support Workers, Victim Advocates, Chief Executives, Police Commissioners, Nurses, Crime Prevention Officers. This forum is also open to Police and the Voluntary Sectors to encourage debate.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Fiona Waye, Senior Policy Lead – Inclusion, Equality and Diversity, Universities UK
  • Nicola Barden, Executive Member, Association of Manager of Student Services in Higher Education (AMOSSHE) and Director of Student Services, The University of Winchester
  • Hareem Ghani, Women’s Officer, NUS
  • Dr Tiffany Page, Co-Founder, The 1752 Group
*Click here to see the other speakers and detailed programme*


Policy Background

The most recent comprehensive survey on student sexual assault by the NUS found 1 in 7 students reported being a victim of serious sexual or physical assault during their time at university. In addition only 10% of those sexually assaulted felt able to report this to the police and even fewer (4%) to their university.

Whilst universities have a duty of care to their students there are no national standards for university policies on handling disclosures of rape and sexual assault, and support varies considerably between institutions. The government has realised the current epidemic of violence is unacceptable and recognised that all students have the right to a university experience where they feel safe from harm and harassment. A taskforce led by Universities UK, convened by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), reported its findings in the October 2016 Report Changing the Culture: Report of the Universities UK Taskforce examining violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students. The taskforce laid out key recommendations exploring how best to support universities to respond effectively to issues including sexual violence, harassment, hate crimes and ‘lad culture’. In response the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) announced £2.45 million in grants would be available from its Catalyst Fund to tackle these issues.

However more must still be done to tackle unacceptable behaviour including sexual misconduct by university staff towards students, recognising the inherent power dynamics in such relationships and significant barriers for students considering choosing to report such staff. It is clear there is urgent work that needs to be undertaken to strengthen universities policies for reporting but equally importantly to strive to invest in education and prevention; fostering a culture of zero tolerance towards sexual violence, harassment and hate crime.

View the Agenda


Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair's Welcome Address

Dr Vanita Sundaram, Senior Lecturer in Education, University of York (CONFIRMED)


Morning Keynote: Tackling Sexual Harassment and Violence in Universities

  • Outlining the recommendations of the October 2016 Changing the Culture Report: Working to ensure universities are safe for all students
  • Highlighting the importance of leaders within institutions working alongside student unions to develop robust clearly outlined processes: Ensuring all staff including HR embed and implement a zero tolerance approach
  • Encouraging institutions to develop strong partnerships with the police, NHS and specialist voluntary organisations
  • Striving to improve both prevention and universities’ response: Sharing good practice between institutions on work being done to combat sexual harassment and VAWG
  • Assessing the extent to which recommendations have been implemented

Fiona Waye, Senior Policy Lead – Inclusion, Equality and Diversity, Universities UK (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Striving to Eliminate Sexual Violence within Universities– Insights from the NUS

  • Discussing conclusions from the NUS Hidden Marks Survey and analysing the progress being made to rectify the fact that 1 in 7 students reported being victim of assault or harassment during their time at university
  • Stressing the need for students, universities, voluntary organisations and government to work in partnership to tackle this issue, listening to student voice
  • Outlining the aims of the ‘It Stops Here’ campaign to tackle sexual violence
  • Highlighting the fact that 60% of students in an NUS study were unaware of university reporting procedures for sexual harassment: Evaluating how this can be improved
  • Working to ensure campuses are safe spaces and women can access education and student life without fear of harassment and assault including through the new taskforce

Hareem Ghani, Women’s Officer, NUS (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Empowering Students to Pledge to Tackle Violence and Harassment

  • Accessing £2 million in funding from Public Health England to develop ‘The Intervention Initiative’: Empowering bystanders to take positive action to prevent VAWG
  • Outlining the specific context in which the programme is intended to have a positive impact and making clear this is not intended for use with chronic abusers
  • Undertaking an approach that initially engages all students before subsequently placing it within the specific context of preventing violence against women
  • Increasing awareness of the multiple forms violence and coercive control can take and dispelling attitudes
  • Inviting feedback from students and relevant parties such as the police throughout all stages of the formulation of the initiative

Dr Rachel Fenton, Senior Lecturer – Department of Law, University of West England (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Tackling Sexual Harassment Through a Zero Tolerance Approach

  • Outlining the award winning ‘Never OK’ campaign that seeks to foster a culture of zero tolerance to sexual harassment
  • Effectively challenging common myths and misconceptions regarding what constitutes sexual harassment and who can perpetrate it: Working to ensure all students feel confident and safe reporting harassment
  • Sharing lessons and challenges from the process of developing and implementing the campaign
  • Evaluating the impact of putting in place a dedicated staff member to lead on tackling sexual violence in addition to training staff to recognise and response appropriately to sexual harassment through the ‘Good Night Out’ initiative

Jim Dickinson, Chief of Staff and India Edwards Welfare Community & Diversity Officer, University of East Anglia Students’ Union (CONFIRMED)


Sponsored Session: Taking an Online Approach to Positive Prevention and Response

  • Showcase highlights from Epigeum’s (part of Oxford University Press) positive prevention and response training package, designed to help universities to tackle sexual violence within their communities
  • Demo of Consent Matters: Boundaries, respect and positive intervention, an online course  for students that is currently being used by 39 HE institutions worldwide
  • Demo of Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence, an online training course for staff and student leaders in Higher Education, currently being used at 16 institutions worldwide
  • Implementation case studies to show how both courses are being used at a range of Higher Education institutions around the world, including student and staff feedback

Epigeum, Oxford University Press (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking


Afternoon Keynote: Supporting University Staff to Respond Effectively to Harassment and Violence Against Women

  • Exploring how the responsibility to respond effectively to disclosures of harassment or abuse must be integrated across the entirety of an institution: Examining how the role of student services professionals fit within this
  • Examining the implications of the UUK taskforce Changing the Culture Report for student services professionals
  • Investing in specialist training and workforce development to ensure all student services professionals are equipped to respond sensitively and appropriately to disclosures of rape and sexual assault
  • Supporting the development of evidence based guidelines through awarding funding to a joint project researching students expectations of HEI’s response to allegations of ‘sexual misconduct’

Nicola Barden, Executive Member, Association of Manager of Student Services in Higher Education (AMOSSHE) and Director of Student Services, The University of Winchester (CONFIRMED)


Exploring the Next Steps to Tackle Sexual Violence and Harassment Within Universities

Rachel Krys, Co-director, End Violence Against Women Coalition (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Developing An Effective Whole Institution Response to Sexual Violence and Misconduct

  • Setting the scene – Why should university communities tackle sexual violence?
  • Commissioning a rapid evidence assessment to gain a deep understanding of the landscape and evidence base for approaches to tackling and responding to sexual violence on campus prior to formulating policies
  • Developing specialist policies and practices for handling reports of sexual violence that are designed with student empowerment at their heart
  • How do we measure ‘success’?

Professor Graham Towl, Former Chair – Sexual Violence Task Force, Durham University and Professor – Psychology Department, Durham University (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Collaborative Investigations and Approaches to Supporting Students - Insights from Coventry University

  • Accessing funding from HEFCE’s Catalyst Fund to build upon ongoing work to improve the university’s’ response to sexual violence
  • Highlighting the importance of working with internal and external stakeholders and delivering collaborative outcomes
  • Updating on work to set up a multi-agency partnership: Examining the benefits of this approach
  • Recognising the importance of leadership and engagement across all levels of the institution

Dr Jane Osmond, Research Fellow, Coventry University (CONFIRMED)


Closing Keynote: Developing Institutional Responses to Staff-Student Sexual Misconduct in Higher Education

  • Defining staff-student sexual misconduct
  • The role of institutions and the impact on students
  • Current research and partnership with the National Union of Students in developing a national prevalence survey
  • Strategic priorities for the sector to prevent and respond effectively

Dr Tiffany Page, Co-Founder, The 1752 Group (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Chair's Closing Remarks

*programme subject to change

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