26 November 2020

A time for change: tackling gender-based violence in higher education

While violence and abuse affects all people, women and girls are disproportionately more likely to encounter domestic abuse and sexual violence. The impact of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence (VAWDASV) has far reaching consequences, including on those that experience it indirectly, such as children, family and friends.

Our guidance on tackling VAWDASV in higher education (HE) was published yesterday. In publishing our guidance we are affirming our commitment to tackling violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence in HE and in supporting universities to continue to safeguard staff and students. Our guidance is intended to be high-level, and applicable to all HE providers, and it recognises the importance of collaborative working with staff, students, and external partners, and the benefits of sharing practice. The guidance includes ten case studies of practice from across Wales that illustrate cross-university, collaborative responses to enabling staff and students in HE to live, work and study free of fear.

How is HE supporting staff and students?

All universities in Wales are taking invaluable action to tackle violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence. Their actions are informed by several UK-wide ‘Changing the Culture’ reports, and supported by the Welsh Government’s VAWDASV strategy and campaigns, including Live Fear Free and supporting toolkits (and in Cymraeg).

HE providers in Wales support students and staff by providing a range of preventive, protective and supportive processes and policies. Information, guidance and training on tackling violence against women, and workshops, encourage open conversations. ‘Whole university’ ways of working contribute to shaping formal and informal prevention and intervention processes and securing safer learning environments. Many initiatives have involved external expertise and engaged staff and students. Bystander training has been delivered at universities across Wales alongside tackling VAWDASV awareness raising campaigns at key points in the academic year and around White Ribbon Day.

Examples of collaboration between higher education and external partners on resources include working with appropriate expert bodies and third sector agencies, such as Welsh Women’s Aid and ManKind.

There is more to be done

In publishing this guidance we are recognising the contribution of higher education providers to this national priority and that there is still more to be done. We will continue to work with, and challenge, the HE sector to support staff and students in tackling gender-based violence and changing cultures that lead to violence against women and girls.

Savanna Jones, Widening Access and Inclusion Manager