London university wins £1 million grant to tackle rape on its campuses
A London university has won a £1.1 million grant to develop new training for university staff on how to respond to sexual violence experienced by students.
The European Union’s Justice Programme will deliver the cash sum to Brunel University so that Youth Studies researcher Dr Pam Alldred can address how universities respond to rape.
The project known as, ‘Universities Supporting Victims of Sexual Violence (USVSV): Training for Sustainable Student Services’ will be piloted in 14 universities, including 7 across the UK.
Dr Ruth Caleb, Head of Counselling at Brunel University London explained: “All universities have a responsibility to understand that sexual harassment and violence are issues that need to be challenged, and that excellent training is required for university staff to support students effectively.”
As the number of rapes and sexual assaults reported to police reaches its highest ever level since current records began, sexual violence on university has become an increasingly prevalent issue.
Research conducted by the Telegraph found one in three UK female students had been victims of sexual assault or unwanted advances, whilst 44% said they did not report the assault because they did not think their university would do anything if they reported it.
However, new figures indicate the issue of rape on campuses is increasingly becoming a London-wide problem. The Complete University Guide used official police figures to measure rates of crime, including violent and sexual crimes, within three miles of campuses.
The study showed some of the UK’s leading universities came top of the capital’s listings for crime as King’s College London accounted for 31.38 rape and sexual violence incidents per 1,000, while City University had a similar figure of 30.42. Measured with figures across the country, other universities such as the University of Buckingham, saw significantly lower rates of sexual offences with only 5.21 incidents per 1,000.
The National Union of Students launched their Stand by Me campaign last November following research called “That’s what she said”, which revealed that 50% of study participants identified “prevailing sexism, ‘laddism’ and a culture of harassment” at their universities.
Susuana Amoah, the Women’s Officer for the NUS said: “University campuses create a certain culture, which harnesses a community of people who are quite vulnerable. People are often away from home, people are trying new things so it creates this situation where something sinister may be more likely to happen.”
“The systems in place at universities are usually very difficult to navigate which makes it harder for students to report these crimes.”
In recent months calls have been made to make consent lessons compulsory at all universities across the country, which is something Amoah backs: “University is a perfect place for people to come and educate themselves so why not talk to them about consent?”
“Policy needs to be changed across the board about how universities perceive sexual violence and how they deal with it. Staff need to be trained about how to respond to these issues, while there needs to be education at all levels about ‘lad culture’ and sexual assault.”