The University of Bedfordshire has been awarded funding by the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) to help tackle online harassment on campus.
The University in partnership with Universities UK will develop a Bedfordshire Cyber Awareness Programme (BCAP) raise awareness and counter online harassment and hate on university campuses.
The results of the programme will be analysed and guidance on effective practice produced and disseminated across the higher education sector.
The programme will develop an online training programme and train student Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) leaders on how to coach other students to identify online harassment and hate and how to respond to it. It will use services and expertise from the University’s National Centre for Cyberstalking (NCCR) to inform the training.
Dr Emma Short Director of National Centre of Cyberstalking (NCCR) at the University said: “I am delighted that the University of Bedfordshire will be at the forefront in addressing how universities can effectively deal with harassment online.
“This project will be of particular benefit to students most at risk of online harassment. By fostering an environment of informed peers it will increase peer support and understanding as well as reduce instances of unintentional inappropriate behaviour.”
The University is one of over 40 universities and colleges in England to have been awarded funding totalling ￡1.8m to improve responses to hate crime and online harassment on campus.
All the projects awarded funding have been developed with students who will have a pivotal roles in their delivery. The funding was awarded following a report by the Universities UK Harassment Task Force. The report explored the nature and scale of the issue in higher education, and highlighted a need for institutions to respond more effectively.
The Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Jo Johnson, said: “Hate crime of any kind has no place in our society or on our campuses, and we expect universities to take a zero-tolerance approach to this kind of harassment, whether it takes place online or in person.
“I am pleased to see HEFCE supporting the important work of the Universities UK Taskforce, and I am hugely encouraged to see universities working closely with students to develop different approaches to tackling this important issue.”
HEFCE Chief Executive, Professor Madeleine Atkins, said: “All students should feel safe and supported during their time in higher education. Universities and colleges are making progress in tackling the issues of hate crime and online harassment on campus, but there is more to be done.
“We are delighted to be supporting a range of innovative projects, and we will be looking to share good practice and evidence of successful outcomes over the coming months.”
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