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Universities UK President conference speech: having policies and strategies in place to address harassment is not enough

Professor Janet Beer, President of Universities UK (UUK) and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, has said that all strategies designed to address harassment must be accompanied by activities to support cultural change in our universities.

Speaking ahead of UUK's conference on tackling violence against women, harassment and hate crime, she highlighted the following points:

  • "If students and staff do not feel safe, this will impact on their physical and mental health, their social life and their academic experience.

  • "This time last year a report of the Universities UK Taskforce was published to support the sector in tackling gender-based violence, harassment and hate crime. As the UUK case studies directory – published this summer – shows, universities have responded with a range of innovative initiatives and measures to address the issue.

  • "Activities to support cultural change could include a visible commitment to removing barriers to cultural change from senior leaders, understanding the barriers to changes in staff behaviour, delivering training to staff and encouraging students and staff to report their concerns.

  • "Today's conference is another step in addressing this issue: offering practical assistance to institutions and encouraging delegates to share best practice and evaluate their own policies and processes.

  • "There is more work to be done, and a sustained commitment to cultural change by university leaders is vital if we want to ensure that our universities lead the way in tackling violence, harassment and hate crime." 


  1. Professor Janet Beer's full speech​ is available on the UUK website.

  2. The case studies directory is a developing resource bank that will continue to grow as universities share initiatives and experiences within the UK and internationally.

  3. The final Report of the Universities UK Taskforce examining violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students  was published in October 2016.

  4. Pinsent Masons LLP also released additional guidance for higher education institutions on how to handle alleged student misconduct which may also constitute a criminal offence – published alongside the taskforce's final report.

Key Contacts

Gareth Morgan

Gareth Morgan

Media Relations Manager
Universities UK

Clara Plackett

Clara Plackett

Press and Social Media Officer
Universities UK


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