Dear colleagues and students,

In December last year, we published an independent review of the University’s staff and student procedures and support in relation to Gender-Based Violence.

The review by Morag Ross KC, recognised there is a genuine commitment from the University to address Gender-Based Violence and the devastating implications it has on individuals.

However, the report also identified further steps we should take to improve our systems and processes, and to combat sexual violence and sexual harassment. The University’s senior management fully accepted Ms Ross’s recommendations and committed to implementing them before the start of the 2023/24 academic year.  We are writing to update you on progress so far.

The budgetary requirements were agreed in January and work started immediately to comply with the 16 recommendations in the Ross Report. They are currently all broadly on schedule to meet key deadlines and are being tracked to ensure they will be completed by the start of the 2023/24 academic year.

Resources for more staff - both for key new roles as well as increasing the numbers in existing teams - have been made available, with those positions either filled or recruitment underway.  There will be new or extended posts in safeguarding, specialist sexual harassment counselling, the SRC student advice centre, the complaints resolution office and the student conduct team. This is the one area we cannot be absolutely sure of meeting our deadline - we need to recruit the best possible candidates to the new roles and cannot be certain that all posts will be filled by the end of August. 

Alongside this, we are taking forward a series of projects to revise our policies and improve training, communications and reporting systems.  This work is all progressing to schedule.

Those responsible for the implementation of each recommendation continue to engage with all relevant colleagues and students to garner support, input and feedback. 

This includes colleagues working closely with the Students’ Representative Council to build trust and awareness around gender-based violence and signpost support resources. Following student body focus groups, core areas we know we need to focus on are trust, clarity and culture. Hailie Pentleton-Owens, our incoming SRC President has also written a blog about progress and next steps:

Implementation is overseen by a sub-group of Senior Management Group comprising the Chief Operating Officer; Executive Director, People & Organisational Development; the Gender Equality Champion; Clerk of Senate; and the Student Representative Council President. The sub-group is supported by an external advisor and the Transformation Team, together with colleagues from both the Student & Academic Services and People & Organisational Development.

We would like to thank colleagues and students who have contributed to taking forward this vital work and to making sure we do everything we can to protect all members of our community.

We will keep you regularly updated on progress over the coming weeks. 

Dr David Duncan
Chief Operating Officer and University Secretary

Professor Sara Carter
Vice Principal & Head of College of Social Sciences, Gender (Sex) Equality Champion