Student Safety in the UK: ProtectED
ProtectED is the UK’s first higher education accreditation scheme for student security, safety and wellbeing, and represents the ‘gold standard’ for assessing work done by universities in this area.
The origins of ProtectED
ProtectED was developed at the University of Salford, in partnership with security experts K7 Compliance. Our Code of Practice reflects the evolving role for university security, which was traditionally concerned with tackling campus crime and protecting university property. ProtectED extends institutions' remit to consider the entire student experience and the wide range of pastoral care for which universities are responsible. There is currently no comprehensive best practice standard for universities wishing to address the issue of student safety and wellbeing and we think this is something that needs to be addressed.
Who we work with
In developing ProtectED, we worked with organisations including the British Council, the Security Industry Authority and the National Union of Students. To better understand the main safety, security and wellbeing issues for HEIs and their students, we also conducted focus groups with University Security Managers, Police Higher Education Liaison Officers and Students’ Union Sabbatical Officers, and surveyed 800 UK university students.
How ProtectED will ensure a safer student experience in the UK
ProtectED addresses inconsistent standards across the sector by recognising good work done by HEIs, and offering guidance where they fall short. The Code of Practice contains a broad range of measures in the following key areas: student wellbeing and mental health; international students; harassment and sexual assault, and the student night out. Successful universities must have these measures in place to help ensure problems relating to student safety and wellbeing are prevented, rather than only mitigated. They will also be expected to collaborate with other agencies, including local authorities and emergency services, in meeting students’ needs and managing potential risks. ProtectED will be of especial interest to international students who may encounter similar difficulties to domestic students, all while negotiating unfamiliar surroundings. Without advice on preventative behaviour, international students may fall victim to crime, while feelings of disorientation and homesickness can impact upon mental wellbeing. ProtectED accreditation assures international students that they will be well-informed and supported whilst studying and living in the UK.
Future plans for ProtectED
We are currently finalising the Code of Practice for distribution to our ‘early adopter’ institutions. These institutions will then assess themselves against criteria measuring their competency in dealing with student safety and wellbeing, before being visited by a trained assessor. Successful universities could begin displaying the ProtectED mark as early as the 2016/2017 academic year. In time, we expect ProtectED to cover wider aspects of the student experience and to grow into a network of partnership working and shared good practice between universities. If successful, the scheme could be rolled out to other parts of the UK and Europe, and even adapted for introduction in further education colleges.
Safety tips for international students studying in the UK
- Familiarise yourself with British culture, as well as your university campus and surrounding area (including safest walking routes, public transport services etc.)
- Always carry a charged, topped-up mobile phone and store important numbers e.g. emergency services, university security, taxis, etc.
- On a night out, let friends know where you’re going, and when you’ll be back. Walk confidently, keep valuables hidden and stick to busy areas.
- Make copies of your travel documents and keep them somewhere safe.
- Reporting criminal activity: if required, the police can provide a translator, free of charge. You can also phone Crimestoppers Trust anonymously on 0800 555 111.