University awarded funding to improve responses to hate crime

The University of Wolverhampton is among over 40 institutions which have been awarded a total of £1.8m to improve responses to hate crime and online harassment on campus.

The funding, from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), will support a range of projects which have been developed with students, who will have pivotal roles in their delivery.

They cover a wide range of activities, including training and awareness raising, digital innovation, and new approaches to prevention and reporting.

The University of Wolverhampton’s project aims to ensure that students understand how to successfully interact with people from different backgrounds. It will do this by working with students to identify the beliefs and misconceptions that commonly lead to hate incidents, and then develop training to effectively challenge these ideas. It will also develop training around how to report an incident or seek help.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Access and Lifelong Learning), Jackie Dunne, said: “At the University of Wolverhampton we welcome students from diverse backgrounds and we believe that diversity enriches the university experience for all our students and staff, as everyone is exposed to new approaches and perspectives.

“We are strongly committed to working with students, staff and community organisations to tackle hate crime and online harassment, and to ensuring that we can provide a safe environment across our campuses and in our university communities, in which all students can thrive and reach their full potential.

“We strive to ensure that the University is a safe and inclusive space for all our students. However we believe it’s important not to be complacent, which is why we are at the forefront of championing equality and are keen to develop projects that enable students to successfully interact and understand each other’s cultural backgrounds and challenge negative ideas through effective training.”

Ikenna Mirembe, Diversity Officer at the University of Wolverhampton Students’ Union, said: “With a successful HEFCE bid, the University is looking at ways to ensure that students’ safety, both online and around the campus, is at the forefront of its future planning. With the support of the Students' Union, the unique needs of the diverse student body will be put into consideration allowing students to feel confident that they are around a good and safe learning environment.”

The projects at more than 40 universities and colleges in England are focused on strategic and sustainable interventions to:

  • encourage greater student engagement and collaboration
  • embed more effective reporting systems for hate crime and harassment
  • train students how to combat hate and harassment
  • support international students
  • develop whole-institution and area-wide collaboration.

The funding, from the second phase of HEFCE’s Catalyst Fund, was awarded following a report by the Universities UK Harassment Task Force. The report explored the nature and scale of the issue in higher education, and highlighted a need for institutions to respond more effectively.

Grants were awarded in this second round to a diverse range of HEFCE-funded universities and further education colleges.

The Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Jo Johnson, said: “Hate crime of any kind has no place in our society or on our campuses, and we expect universities to take a zero-tolerance approach to this kind of harassment, whether it takes place online or in person.

“I am pleased to see HEFCE supporting the important work of the Universities UK Taskforce, and I am hugely encouraged to see universities working closely with students to develop different approaches to tackling this important issue.”

HEFCE Chief Executive, Professor Madeleine Atkins, said: “All students should feel safe and supported during their time in higher education. Universities and colleges are making progress in tackling the issues of hate crime and online harassment on campus, but there is more to be done.

“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.”

Further information

Notes to editors

HEFCE’s Catalyst Fund provides targeted investment in activity led by universities and colleges. The fund supports a range of student and sector priorities, including innovation in higher education, efficiency and effectiveness, and student interest issues. The invitation to submit proposals for projects addressing student safeguarding on campus was issued on 21 June 2017 and closed on 31 July 2017. HEFCE has awarded £1,812,142to over 40 institutions.

 

For more information please contact the Media Relations Office on 01902 32 2736 or 01902 518647.

Date Issued: Monday, 16 October 2017

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