Excellence Award: Supporting Universities to Prevent Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence

The Excellence Award supports universities and student unions to review their current performance in the prevention of domestic abuse and sexual violence and embed effective sustainable prevention in their campus culture; empowering, supporting and educating their staff and students.

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Through auditing, training, policy and service updates, and engagement the Excellence Award will equip senior leaders and frontline staff alike with the knowledge and skills required to lead the sector in preventing gendered violence and developing a positive campus culture.

When the programme is complete universities will be recognised with the Excellence in Prevention Award.

Why complete the Excellence in Prevention Award?

1. We know that sexual violence and domestic abuse are significant, widespread issues at universities. RE:SET Universities helps you address this in your context.

Revolt Sexual Assault found in their 2018 research that 62% of students and recent graduates had experienced sexual assault or sexual violence at university. We also know that 16-25s are the age group most likely to experience domestic abuse (Office for National Statistics, 2020). Universities have a responsibility to respond to these issues, but it can seem like an insurmountable problem, which is where the structure and expert guidance provided by Tender can be invaluable.

2. The Office for Students requires universities to engage in preventing domestic abuse and sexual violence in the lives of students.

In April 2021 the Office for Students (OfS) published the ‘Statement of expectations for preventing and addressing harassment and sexual misconduct affecting students in higher education’1. This in part outlines ways in which universities need to address the issues of domestic and sexual abuse on campus, including utilising a ‘whole provider approach’. The RE:SET Universities programme addresses many of the recommendations in the OfS statement and offers universities the guidance needed to take this work further and deeper to transform their university culture.

3. Becoming an Excellence in Prevention university allows you to demonstrate your commitment to current and prospective students, staff and partner organisations alike.

Successfully completing the RE:SET Universities programme offers not just a way to see tangible improvements in prevention of violence and outcomes for students, but also gives you a three year award to commend your efforts. Tender offers ongoing support and access to a network of Excellence in Prevention Universities as well as branding and logos which you can display online to showcase your success. Demonstrating this in turn makes students feel safer to report issues and creates a more positive University environment.

Background to the project

Since 2017, Tender has worked with over 65 UK universities to deliver domestic abuse and sexual violence awareness training. We have delivered creative, engaging training to students, student leaders, students’ union and university staff with fantastic results.

Between September 2021 and July 2022 we piloted a new approach with 5 universities, working intensively in the setting throughout the year with a diverse training offer. 99% of trainee attendees on this programme said they would recommend our training.

The development and learning from this pilot has demonstrated the importance of using a Whole University Approach (WUA) to improve prevention of domestic abuse and sexual violence in the lives of students. We are now delivering this through RE:SET Universities.

What is a Whole University Approach (WUA)?

A Whole University Approach advocates for effective procedure and prevention messaging to be embedded in every aspect of University life and culture. This could look like:

  • working with senior leaders and staff who deliver services;

  • paying attention to policies as well as the delivery of these policies;

  • delivering messages through university student services as well as teaching departments;

  • attending to staff as well as student wellbeing;

  • scrutinising covert norms as well as what university marketing overtly says.

Our intention to utilise a WUA is also informed by our Whole Setting Approach programme – RE:SET – which creates a transferrable model of sustained support, training and culture change and has had great success in secondary, primary schools and specialist education settings (https://tenderreset.org.uk/).