News + Comment

ProtectED Evening Reception at University College London

After a couple of false starts due to Covid-19 restrictions being put in place at the House of Lords, one unfortunately 24 hours before the event was due to take place; fortunately, University College London (UCL), in particular Oliver Curran, Deputy Head of Security at UCL, stepped in and provided a fantastic and equally as prestigious alternative venue at UCL, at such short notice.


Thankfully ProtectED patron, Baroness Henig, was still able to attend, and open the event, welcoming everyone to UCL and thanking everyone for attending at the new venue. She went on to introduce one of her peers Baroness Tessa Blackstone, who shared her experiences from working in education as an academic and university administrator stating, “One of the things I have always felt very strongly about is that we actually have to look after our students we can't just assume that you can throw them in the pool and that they will come up to the surface and swim.”


Baroness Tessa Blackstone then went on to advocate for mature and part time students, who are juggling work, families and studies, which with many people reassessing their careers after lockdown, is a very valid group, that universities should consider how they cater for.


ProtectED Director Andrew Wootton, then formally introduced the evening agenda of guest speakers and talked passionately of the creation and purpose of ProtectED; explaining how building a network of friends and colleagues who have worked with ProtectED, in a collective effort; has made ProtectED possible and noting how pleased he was that so many of them could join ProtectED at the event.


Andrew went on to announce that ProtectED was recently commended at the Dave Clark awards, which are run by UK Security Commonwealth for its 'Exceptional contribution to the UK security industry', he was also pleased to confirm that ProtectED has been nominated for one of the British Standards Institute's awards for innovation, which we look forward to hearing more about.


Andrew introduced the first of the evening's speakers, Dr Erin Shannon, a researcher at the University of York and an associate member of the 1752 Group, who are a research and lobby organisation that aims to address specifically staff-to-student sexual misconduct in UK higher education. Erin, spoke of the importance of addressing sexual harassment and sexual assault as a matter of student wellbeing and safety in institutions, explaining she is currently investigating the extent to which university complaints processes can adequately address this, with Anna Bull, a founding member of the 1752 Group, through interviewing people who have attempted to report sexual misconduct to their institutions, as well as staff whose remit involves responding to sexual harassment complaints, gaining insight into the university complaints processes.


Erin noted “The ProtectED principle of having a joined-up approach to student wellbeing and safety is also absolutely necessary in a successful response to sexual harassment and violence, a major roadblock for many of the survivors who spoke to me for my research was silo working in universities.”


Erin ended poignantly by appealing to those in attendance, by stating “I know I'm preaching to the choir here tonight, which is very nice feeling, but I just wanted to remind everyone that survivors of sexual harassment and assaults are indeed members of your institutions and when you are putting in place culture change and new policies, please do consider them at the forefront of your thoughts.”


Doug Little, Senior Project Manager, for the International Student Mental Health Project was next to speak. The collaborative project led by the University of Nottingham started back in 2019, the primary aim is to discover what universities are doing to support international student’s mental health and wellbeing. The project will be bringing together university best practice and case studies for universities to learn by. Doug confirmed that they had had their setbacks due to Covid-19 as students were isolated in their home countries. Still, after embracing different solutions and ways of working, they overcame their difficulties. He went on to praise ProtectED, explaining,


“I really think that organisations like ProtectED and the British Council, have really tried to support students. ProtectED is a fantastic organisation that supports universities in providing outstanding security and safety to their students, and this includes a package dedicated to international students, they've really brought international students to the forefront of their work.”


Doug went on to relate how international students often feel overlooked, in spite of the fact that they've made a conscious effort to come and study in the UK, and have invested a considerable amount of money and time to study here. As a final note, he asked the audience not to underestimate the importance that, international students and their families place on safety security and wellbeing.


Following on from Doug and carrying on the subject of international students, Helen Clews, Senior Consultant (Visas & immigration) - Cultural Engagement/Education, at the British Council, took the podium. Helen explained the British Council works to build connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries, through our arts, culture, education and English language. Helen spoke of their International education strategy to hopefully attract at least 600,000 international students by 2030, helped by the introduction of the new graduate route and The Study UK campaign, delivered by the British Council in partnership with the UK government’s GREAT Britain campaign.


Helen quoted some interesting results from a recent Endsleigh Insurance poll stating “University students are more unhappy, after their first year, when they quit halls and are off campus. 53% flounder as they struggle to cope with their mental health and security fears.” She went on to cover the rise in racial hate crimes and sexual assault on campuses that students face and how there are calls for ALL universities to have an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor based on campus.


Helen eloquently finished off her keynote by saying "Universities take their duty of care to students seriously, but the pressure of is on (global pandemic/ immigration/ mental health and wellbeing/ perceptions of safety) and the numbers of students rising, therefore I would encourage UK universities to please get involved with the ProtectED initiative. ProtectED will help raise performance standards and reduce the fragmentation across the sector to the benefit of all including staff, stakeholders and students and their families."


Trevor Jones, head of security at the University of Salford and the past chair of the Association of University Chief Security Officers (AUCSO) perfectly rounded off a programme of excellent speakers. Trevor opened by noting that there were a few people attending that have been instrumental in supporting him and ProtectED, he thanked Malcolm Dawson and Professor Alan Walker, for their support.


Trevor observed that now students are back on campus, all the issues that go along with this have returned, he commented how he heard with trepidation the rise in drink spiking in the news. Trevor explained that to help combat these issues on the University of Salford campus, a new initiative, which brings together security and wellbeing teams in collaboration, from Manchester University, Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Salford enabling joined up support for students. Which is a fantastic endeavour.


Trevor has also always been an advocate of training of security teams in mental health and suicide prevention, introducing the training to all members when he was chair of AUCSO. Which I am sure his team were grateful for when attending a recent incident.


Trevor concluded by saying “I have designed the vast majority of my security around the ProtectED scheme and since we started there has been and 82% drop in crime on our campuses and if it's not worth joining ProtectED for that, then I can’t say what is.” Which is excellent praise indeed.


The programme for the evening concluded with the official welcoming of our latest ProtectED Founder Member institution, University of Central London. Oliver Curran, Deputy Head of Security at UCL, proudly collected the membership certificate presented by our host, Baroness Ruth Henig


Ollie encouraged others to do the same, adding “Joining ProtectED is a commitment to our current and prospective students, their parents and guardians; that we will look after these students, from the day they enrol until the day they graduate. I think you know university students of 2021 probably have never had so much to worry about, there's always going to be academic, financial and social worries but nowadays, they have to worry about, are they going to be a victim of fraud, sexual assaults, cyber-attacks, drink spiking, hate crime, terrorism, knife crime and our old friend theft? or are they going to be involved in or witness gambling, prostitution, drugs, suicides, gender discrimination, domestic abuse, etc? These are the problems we face every day, which is why I wanted to be involved in ProtectED.”


ProtectED are very pleased to welcome University College London as a ProtectED Founder Member. Ollie and his colleagues at UCL are strong advocates of improving standards in safety, security and wellbeing, and are great supporters of ProtectED.


There was however an extra award that had taken a lot of effort to hide, presented to Trevor Jones.

A ProtectED Fellowship was awarded, for outstanding contribution towards the ProtectED project. ProtectED Director Brian Nuttall Presented the award to the surprised Trevor, saying “I've worked with this person for many years and witnessed the incredible commitment and dedication to his work in improving security in the HE sector in particular through his work at University of Salford, through his work as leadership of AUCSO and also through his fantastic work on ProtectED.”


After a rousing round of applause for Trevor, the evening was rounded off with a fantastic networking opportunity supported by drinks and canapés! Guests connected with attendees from other institutions, businesses and organisations, with conversations around the room sparked by the content of the prior keynotes. A dominant topic of conversation was the problems facing security, wellbeing and student services professionals each day. We know that the conversations and relationships begun at this event will continue into the future.


We would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who attended, it was wonderful to meet representatives from so many institutions and organisations. We hope that all those who unfortunately couldn’t make this event will join us at the next one. We at ProtectED are proud to work with such inspiring people, in a sector that can make a such a positive difference to people's lives and futures.


Please note if you would like to join Doug Little on the 6th December for the Globally MindEd - International Student Mental Health & Wellbeing event please register here.



UCL Deputy Security Manager Ollie Curran accepted the ProtectED certificate from ProtectED Patron, Baroness Ruth Henig. Pictured from left to right, Mark West, security manager; Fiona Ryland, Chief Operating Officer; Baroness Ruth Henig; Ollie Curran Deputy Security Manager; Ian Dancy, Executive Director (Estates Operations); David Everett, Director, Campus Services; and Denise Long, Director of Student Support and Wellbeing.



Lisa Ravenscroft – Communications Manager for ProtectED.

You can contact on: m: +44 (0)7889 933034 or at l.ravenscroft@Protect-ED.org.

Twitter: @ProtectED_HEI www.Protect-ED.org

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