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Making university campuses safer

Published: 8 Mar 2016 10:31

New toolkit to help reduce violence against women.

Scottish universities are set to become even safer as they strive to prevent sexual harassment and assault across their campuses.

Statistics show that stalking, harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence are significant issues facing Scottish women today and college age women can be at greater risk, with one in four reporting unwanted sexual behaviour during their studies.

Marking International Women's Day, the Scottish Government is teaming up with the University of Strathclyde to develop a groundbreaking violence against women toolkit to stamp out these behaviours when they happen at home, at work, or on university and college campuses.

The university has been awarded £300,000 for the first year of an innovative two year project to produce a resource for all Scottish Higher Education Institutes as part of Equally Safe, the Government's strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said:

"It is completely unacceptable that women in Scotland are still at risk of, and experiencing, violence and abuse at any point in their lives – never mind a time when many move away from their homes to a new city or town to study.

"We want our colleges and universities to be worldleading in all respects and positive learning environments. That is why this Government is committed to ensuring that this criminal behaviour is identified, tackled robustly and eliminated from our campuses.

"The recent rise in convictions for domestic abuse and sexual offences shows an increase in confidence to report and a more consistent approach by police and prosecutors.

"This project will build on the good work already happening and embed the principles of Equally Safe into all colleges and universities procedures – leading to a cross-campus approach to preventing violence against women and better practices for reporting abuse and supporting victims.

Dr Veena O'Halloran, Director of Student Experience and Enhancement Services at the University of Strathclyde said: "Universities have a key role to play in helping to prevent all forms of gender-based violence, wherever it may occur in our communities. We are delighted with the announcement of funding for this innovative, collaborative project.

"By working together with other universities, we can ensure the higher education sector contributes substantially to Scotland's progressive, national approach to the long-term prevention of gender-based violence."

The Scottish Government is providing record funding for initiatives all across Scotland to help make a real difference and eradicate violence against women.

The collaborative, campus-wide project will be based in the University's School of Social Work and Social Policy.

The University will work with a range of partners including other universities and students associations to conduct an initial scoping exercise to ensure existing good practice is shared across the sector.

Notes to editors

The University of Strathclyde will be a pilot site to implement a campus-wide Violence Against Women Prevention and Early Intervention Strategy and support better recording of such crimes on Scottish campuses.

The Equally Safe Strategy was launched in June 2014.

The National Union of Students study showed that 1 in 4 female students have reported unwanted sexual behaviour during their studies - Hidden Marks: A study of Women Students' experiences of harassment, stalking, violence and sexual assault (2011), National Union of Students