A new accreditation scheme launched by the University of Salford will make it easier for prospective students and their parents to identify safe universities in the UK.
All higher education institutions across the UK are now being encouraged to join ProtectED – an accreditation scheme assessing the work done by universities to ensure their students’ safety, security and wellbeing.
They can then work towards accreditation by providing details about the services and structures they provide to enable students to avoid problems and achieve their full potential.
ProtectED is the first accreditation scheme in the UK’s higher education sector to comprehensively consider practices across the areas of student safety, security and wellbeing.
It is founded on the belief that HEIs have a critical role to play in student safety, security and wellbeing — one that does not end at campus boundaries but encompasses the wider student experience.
Professor Helen Marshall, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Salford, said: “An issue which the higher education sector has grappled with for years is that institutions have varied and different ways of considering the safety and wellbeing of their students, without a higher education specific code of practice and benchmark for policies and best practice.
“These are huge issues to students and parents, but up until now there has been no standard way of benchmarking and assessing how effectively universities manage the issue. I really welcome this work developed by our dedicated and internationally-recognised security and community relations team at Salford.”
Through the accreditation process, ProtectED will gain insight into issues and collect evidence on what works. This will be anonymised, aggregated and analysed, and findings shared with members, enabling them to focus resources on effective strategies that provide demonstrable benefits.
ProtectED accreditation focuses on five areas: Core Institutional Safety and Security - covering campus security measures; Wellbeing and Mental Health; International Students; Harassment and Sexual Assault; and the Student Night Out.
There are 2.3 million university students in the UK’s 162 HEIs — more that the population of Qatar. Office of National Statistics figures show full-time students are more at risk than the general population of being victims of crime, while an NUS survey of more than 1,000 students found 78 per cent had experienced mental health issues during the previous year.
ProtectED brings together university staff and students in tackling these issues, and requires HEIs to implement practical measures. For example, ProtectED universities will deliver training and awareness-raising initiatives to highlight the support available to students, and to facilitate conversation around sensitive subjects such as mental ill-health and sexual assault.