£40k for York partnership to promote healthier student relationships

Published: 15/03/2017

A joint bid between York St John University, York College and local charities has won funding from the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE) to strengthen student safeguarding.

Counsellor supporting student

Counselling service supports students at York St John

York-based sexual violence organisation Survive and domestic abuse charity IDAS will work with both educational establishments to facilitate discussions and deliver training and guidance to students and staff to build on existing approaches to tackle sexual violence and harassment. This will include practical bystander skills to safely challenge unacceptable behaviour and consent awareness to increase understanding of what constitutes a healthy relationship.

The project will involve students from both institutions, who will take the lead in developing high quality, relevant and accessible resources and systems to highlight the importance of healthy relationships, consent and respect. York St John will draw on a broad range of internal expertise for the project including specialist welfare and anti-bullying support.

Vice Chancellor Professor Karen Stanton stated that safeguarding students was a priority across the higher education sector. “York St John University is committed to building on our existing positive initiatives so that we maintain a safe culture and environment for students. By working with partners that value each other’s expertise and experience, this funding enables us to develop, implement and share further good practice and reflects our city-wide approach to tackling this issue.”

The grant from HEFCE was 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 highlighted the need for institutions to respond more effectively.

Universities Minister 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.” 

York College Head of Student Services Glenn Miller added: “The safeguarding and welfare of our students underpins York College's values. We want all students to feel safe and not to feel threatened by their environment or other people in it and to be safe from abuse or being harmed in any way. We are therefore delighted to be working with our partners on this project.”

Chief Officer of Survive, Dani Wardman said the charity was thrilled to hear this much needed initiative would be going ahead. “With this dedicated funding we really look forward to working closely with college and university staff and students on aiding understanding and challenging sexual violence and harassment on campus.”

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