On 19 April 2021 the Office for Students (“OfS”) published a statement of expectations for preventing and addressing harassment and sexual misconduct affecting students in higher education, noting their determination to do all they can to help ensure that students feel safe and supported during their time in higher education – that meaningful support is provided to students when they need it, and that all incidents are dealt with effectively and sensitively.
The 7 expectations are set out below:
At Durham University we are committed to providing a safe, stimulating and inclusive environment for our staff and students, including high quality student support as part of our Wider Student Experience strategy. This intention is clearly stated in one of our three equality objectives, to "embed a culture of respect and inclusivity: to ensure a learning, teaching and research environment which is accessible, inclusive and respectful where all staff and students have the support and opportunities to be the best that they can be".
As such, whilst we appreciate that the OfS statement of expectations is framed in a way that rightly focusses attention on issues that pertain to our students, we recognise the inter-connectedness of our staff and students and that we are one community, working and studying together. This report therefore brings together in one place all the efforts we are making to create a safe and welcoming environment, and how we work with, and in support of, colleagues and students alike to embed effective approaches to deliver cultural and behavioural change. In the table below we provide an overview of our approach and detail about the actions we are taking as a University as well as mapping those against the standards articulated by the OfS and the 7 expectations.
Standard and overview
Minimise potential barriers to reporting and disclosing instances of harassment and sexual misconduct
At DU our efforts are on building confidence to disclose and/or report, which requires trust in the reporting processes and how issues will be handled, and awareness-raising of the available routes to raise concerns. We invest in a significant amount of training for staff and students alike.
1, 3, 4, 5
Ensure that investigatory procedures are fair and independent
We adopt a system-wide approach which involves the creation of a robust policy and procedure framework (which is regularly reviewed and updated) as well as appropriate, trained and independent investigators.
2, 5, 6, 7
Ensure all students involved receive appropriate support
The provision of appropriate support at DU involves collaboration across the University and partnership working with third party organisations, as well as robust training for staff and students as well as an effective Counselling Service.
3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Clearly set out behavioural expectations for all students.
Before our students even join us, we share information about behavioural expectations and we continue to reinforce those messages by requiring them to complete training, by embedding messaging in induction sessions, by running campaigns in colleges and by requiring them to sign up to a pledge.
1, 3, 4, 5,
 Core training: Consent Matters: Boundaries, Respect, and Positive Intervention; SMV Induction Awareness Talks (Core Messages); Active Bystander Course Durham. Optional: Consent Workshop; Consent Workshop Train the Trainer, Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence for Student Leaders.
 Staff Training includes: SMV: Awareness & Disclosure Training (Level 1), SMV: Disclosure & Support Workshop (Level 2), SMV: Domestic Abuse & Stalking Awareness & Disclosure Training, and an online course – Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence.
 Core training: Consent Workshop Train the Trainer; Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence as a Student Leader.
 SMV: Policy Briefing; SMV: Awareness and Disclosure Training (Level 1); SMV: Disclosure and Support Training (Level 2); SMV: Domestic Abuse and Stalking Awareness & Disclosure Training; SMV: Trauma-informed Investigation, Adjudication and Sanctioning Training; SMV: Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence.
 FREPS are Freshers’ representatives who organise events for Induction Week and support new students to DU with addressing any questions they may have.