Bath Spa University (BSU) pride themselves on having built a culture of intimacy and personalised learning for all of their students since receiving University status in 2005. Their members are made to feel like part of a community, which can be a great benefit to student and staff experience, however it can also create barriers when tackling issues that require more discretion, such as with reporting harassment or unacceptable behaviour.
Before working with Culture Shift, BSU relied on informal reporting processes such as face-to-face or direct emails to Student Wellbeing personnel and HR. Our research suggests this can create barriers to reporting as individuals often feel that disclosures linked directly to them can have a negative impact on their studies and overall experience. People don’t always feel confident attaching their name to a report, and this deters many individuals from coming forward about their experience.
So what could BSU do to remove these barriers created from having an intimate community, and begin to empower their staff and students to seek the support they needed?
What we did
BSU reached out to us so we could combine our expertise to help combat the issues they were facing.
We worked with them to launch our Report + Support system tailored to their institution. The system allows BSU to:
- Provide students and staff with a means to report unacceptable behaviour without the perceived barrier of this having a direct impact on their experience
- Ensure that their platform included a range of relevant support articles to assist anybody making or considering a report
- Collect named reports as a further route for disclosures, giving options to reporting parties
Importantly, BSU launched Report + Support alongside an internal social media campaign targeted at staff, students and visitors, acknowledging that simply having an improved process for reporting is no good without raising awareness of the platform, process and support available.
Impact for Bath Spa
The anonymous reporting system was an effective solution for staff and students where direct reporting had previously created a barrier, evidenced in 85% of the 110 reports generated in the first year being anonymous.
In implementing our analytics platform Bath Spa are able to see trends of toxic behaviour in their institution, and respond to them with preventative measures. The data generated through reports highlighted an imminent need for sexual violence prevention work, insight which led to the development of a sexual violence working group tasked with developing a three-year strategic plan to eradicate all forms of sexual violence on campus. Their framework will cover first disclosure training for staff, increasing the number of Sexual Violence Liaison Officers and new disciplinary procedures.
The data collected through Report + Support has also allowed BSU to curate a tailored training programme for their staff covering a range of topics from consent, to racism and understanding disabilities.
What we can learn from our work with Bath Spa University is that a truly positive university culture is able to adapt to the needs of staff and students when dealing with adverse behaviour. Understanding the real culture of your university requires having the means to consistently listen to and respond to issues. When you have data to back this up the prioritisation of change tactics becomes justified and you can make the right decisions at the right times.
For more information on the work we’ve done with BSU, and other universities throughout the UK arrange a call with us.