In 2020 the University of Salford spoke up about the issues of student wellbeing and mental health. This isn’t a unique challenge for Salford, with 1 in 5 students across the country suffering from mental health issues.
Their commitment to creating change required an assessment of their current processes, the identification of challenges, and the introduction of improvements that would allow them to provide better support for students and staff.
The University of Salford comprises more than 23,000 students, 2,500 staff and 170,000 alumni divided into four schools. Previously, each school had responsibility and control over its own student wellbeing reports and implementing processes. This can be an effective way to ensure that each school remains accountable to managing and tackling inappropriate behaviour. However, student life doesn’t operate within the silos of these schools, and the lack of consistency in process meant that students across the institution were having very different experiences when disclosing and reporting misconduct, with some benefitting from a largely positive experience, and others not.
It also created more challenges with visibility and measurability at a total University level. Inconsistency in how each school recorded data means that change at a University level would be harder to enact, and campaigning for behavioural change can also be complicated by conflicting messaging.
It was clear from this internal assessment that more consistency was needed to improve the overall support for students of the University of Salford.
Creating campus-wide processes
To address the challenge, the team at Salford needed to revamp the process for receiving disclosures and reports, and the process by which those were managed.
The university identified Culture Shift and our Report + Support™ platform as the right solution for receiving reports. This was based on our track record in the higher education sector, particularly our work with other institutions in the north west.
The university uses Report + Support™ as a full case management system, creating a unifying place for all departments. Support articles help the reporting party to understand their experience to assist them in processing and communicating what they have gone through. The platform allows students to make a named report; to seek direct help with moving forward from an incident, or an anonymous report; which provides the university with invaluable data on the issues impacting their students. This in turn can inform training and campaigning in the future.
Reports that are made on the system are processed by a centralised administration and triage team before being allocated to the specific department rather than a caseworker.
Each department has SPA (School Progression Admissions) tutors that are responsible for investigations, taking appropriate action and closing cases when deemed appropriate. They are also tasked with promoting awareness of the platform to their students and alumni to encourage them to report incidents.
The university adopted a soft launch approach, and are consistently optimising the platform to make sure it meets the unique requirements of students, staff and administrators.
For example, since launch the team have introduced a ‘Safeguarding’ reporting route for staff use. Safeguarding has long been a priority for the university but it had traditionally been using paper-based proformas. This move has drastically improved efficiency and demonstrates the flexibility of the system to address the needs of the institution.
The more reports the University of Salford receives, the more they’re able to understand the action that they need to take to continue eradicating unacceptable behaviour, making campaigning and awareness are key ongoing actions.
What have the University of Salford achieved?
Report + Support™ has brought consistency and clarity to the university’s approach to tackling unwanted behaviour. Notable findings include:
- Case length time has been significantly reduced, meaning victim-survivors are receiving the support they need quickly.
- Case management effectiveness has improved with the use of Culture Shift’s training, support articles and events
- Data analysis is simpler and easier to see at a total level
- Having access to what is being reported has identified areas where students may still see barriers to reporting, which is informing ongoing work within the university.
The University of Salford continues to adapt their use of Report + Support™ and wider case management process to improve the support available to their staff and students.