ProtectED Member benefits
ProtectED Membership and accreditation support HEIs in four key ways: (i) supporting recruitment of home and international students; (ii) supporting student satisfaction, retention and completion; (iii) helping protect institutional reputation; and (iv) improving cost efficiency and service effectiveness.
The benefits of ProtectED Membership and accreditation are discussed in more detail, below:
ProtectED supports recruitment of home and international students
The student-centred approach adopted by ProtectED is of particular importance in an increasingly market-oriented UK higher education system. Tuition fees have changed students' expectation of universities, with students increasingly thinking of themselves as consumers. It's no longer enough for HEIs to compete for custom on the basis of academic reputation alone — they now also compete on the quality of their services. HEIs that can demonstrate they are an institution that takes the safety, security and wellbeing of its students seriously may gain a competitive edge. While such factors are significant to the student, they will also be important to their family — who may be supporting their progress through higher education both emotionally and financially. Becoming an ProtectED Member and achieving ProtectED accreditation may enhance an institution's competitive position, assisting future students and their families in making an important decision with confidence.
As well as competing for home students, HEIs are competing with institutions around the globe for international students — an important source of income. Nearly a fifth of all new university students enrolled in UK universities in 2014/15 came from abroad. The majority of international students come from countries outside of Europe, for whom media articles are likely to be the main source of information about an Institution and its locale. Research suggests international students are increasingly concerned about safety, and that this influences choices about whether to study in the UK or in another country — and where in the UK. ProtectED accreditation has been developed in collaboration with the British Council, and aims to reassure international students about their safety whilst studying and living in the UK.
Finally, with the biggest financial contribution that parents make to their adult children now being towards the cost of their higher education (replacing the traditional contribution towards the cost of weddings), parents play a larger role in students' decision-making around choice of university. ProtectED addresses the concerns of parents, who naturally worry about the safety, security and wellbeing of their children at university.
ProtectED supports student satisfaction, retention and completion
Non-continuation (i.e. students 'dropping out') is a significant issue for universities. In 2014/15, 7.4% (some 29,140 students) of full-time UK undergraduate students left without completing their first year. One in ten full-time UK university undergraduates are likely to leave university without a degree. Students who are victims of crime or harassment, experiencing stress or suffering mental ill health need support to reduce the risk of them ‘dropping out’. The ProtectED Code of Practice is focused on creating a safe university environment and experience so that students can concentrate on learning, studying and achieving their full potential. By putting risk reduction, prevention and support strategies in place, ProtectED reduces student victimisation and promotes mental wellbeing, which in turn supports HEIs in improving student completion rates.
Data generated and collected through the ProtectED accreditation process will be anonymised, aggregated and analysed to provide ProtectED Members with evidence-based practice improvements in areas addressed by the scheme. In addition, ProtectED Members will be supported to share experience, advice and good practice, and collaboration opportunities between HEIs will be fostered, thereby generating a community of practice. Where needs are identified, support tools and resources will be developed for use by ProtectED Members
ProtectED Membership will help protect institutional reputation
Information about crime and student victimisation is regularly picked up by the media and translated into headlines that can be damaging for an institution's brand. Media reports on crime and suicide involving students commonly link the student victim — or offender — with their institution. This impacts on the institution‘s reputation for safety and security, and may extend to the university town or city.
The issue of student safety at university is a sensitive one, and there is the potential for university comparison guides and media reports on student victimisation and suicide to impact new student applications. This can particularly affect international students who, not having the opportunity to visit an institution, may be reliant on and affected by media and internet reports. We know such comparison guides tend to be simplistic, aggregating all crime within a certain distance of the main campus. This approach to estimating student risk of crime victimisation is both inaccurate and also unfairly penalises institutions located close to urban centres — which generally suffer from higher numbers of crimes.
Joining ProtectED with the goal of achieving ProtectED accreditation allows HEIs to objectively demonstrate their commitment to addressing issues of student safety and security. In addition, data collected by ProtectED will benefit ProtectED Members by supporting research into the real situation regarding risk of student victimisation.
ProtectED will improve cost efficiency and service effectiveness
Research undertaken by ProtectED found that the delivery of security services in the UK higher education sector is fragmented, with standards of practice varying widely between institutions. Some struggle with older security systems that are non-operational or past their economic life. Other issues include: non-operational or compromised alarms; out-dated CCTV systems with poor image quality (making it unusable as evidence); and broken or inappropriately located CCTV cameras.
Unfortunately, for some HEIs security can represent poor value for money. This can be for a variety of reasons: institutions may have multiple contracts with different suppliers for effectively the same service; there may be wide variations in the maintenance and monitoring costs provided by different suppliers, or inconsistencies across different sites. In addition, there is anecdotal evidence of poorly-informed institutions being sold unsuitable security systems. Finally, institutions may lack adequate understanding of the relevant legal frameworks, such as CCTV rules and codes of conduct.
The ProtectED Code of Practice is informed by experts in security, student services and student support, and builds on the existing body of best practice in these areas. Compliance with ProtectED will support the improved efficiency of Member HEI services. In addition, ProtectED will capture data on practice and performance across the sector that will be analysed to provide guidance to ProtectED Members on how cost-efficiency can be improved.
Regardless of the above motivations for HEIs' interest, adopting ProtectED is a reflection of institutional values. In short: HEIs must decide whether the ideas and principles underpinning ProtectED chime with their institutional values; whether they aspire to being a ProtectED institution.