Wednesday 17 April 2019
The vast majority of our students have a hugely positive experience at Leicester, but we all know that University life can be challenging and pressurised at times. Many students need help at some point during their time with us – and some, unfortunately, have to deal with some particularly challenging experiences.
Without doubt, the demand for student wellbeing and support services is on the increase within UK universities, but this has become even more of a focus for Leicester in recent weeks, following social media posts about sexual violence on university campuses, including our University.
We currently invest £2.3 million a year on student wellbeing and support services. Some recent initiatives include:
- Funding a Student Welfare Project Officer to support sexual violence victims as part of our Standing Together partnership with the Students’ Union.
- Introducing a new ‘Report and Support’ online reporting system, which makes it easier for students to contact the University with wellbeing and safety concerns.
- Increasing our support team with the addition of five new posts.
- The development of a new Student Wellbeing Strategy which will identify further areas for investment and which will include a student wellbeing training and awareness programme for every staff member.
However, work does not stop there. Implementing the Report and Support system has identified areas of our service that should be improved. Firstly, it has become clear that we need to invest in more specific types of support and we need to respond in a more timely way. Secondly, we need to understand how we can work with the student community more effectively as we receive a significant number of reports which are anonymous, which means that we are unable to provide the level of support that is required. Thirdly, we need to make our wellbeing, complaints and misconduct policies much clearer and easier to access so that students understand the processes and what they should expect.
Yesterday I met with the Students’ Union, UCU and a small group of students to discuss this issue. The meeting confirmed that there is much more to do but I was encouraged that there was a clear commitment from all parties to work together to eliminate sexual violence at the University.
I am making a personal commitment to act swiftly - we need work on this right now. I want students to be reassured of our strong commitment to their student experience and personal wellbeing. I’m sure that like me, you want to make sure that the University of Leicester is one of the safest universities in the UK where students achieve their potential and flourish in a safe and respectful environment.