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.
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 - Professor Helen Marshall, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Salford
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 health and sexual assault.
Helen Clews, External Relations Adviser for the British Council and member of the ProtectED Advisory Board, said: “Personal safety in the UK for students, their dependents, visitors and workers coming to the UK is a duty of care the British Council takes very seriously and we work with partners such as ProtectED to help international students take care of themselves and settle happily into their community.”
Student retention is another significant issue. According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, 26,000 UK students failed to complete their first year in 2010/11. ProtectED is based around the need for effective prevention, early intervention and timely support, raising levels of student satisfaction and enabling more students to complete their studies.
Institutions wanting to join must sign up to the five key ProtectED Principles, committing to adopting within their policies, structures, processes and culture.
To gain accreditation, applicant institutions must self-assess their own policies, processes and practice against the ProtectED Code of Practice. This is followed by peer review and a verification visit by a ProtectED approved assessor and student assessors.
For more information, visit www.Protect-ED.org, follow @ProtectED_HEI or email Review@protect-ed.org.
Subscribe to our free fortnightly newsletter and stay ahead with the latest news in HE