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 Student welfare at the University of Cambridge received a funding boost today as part of a sector-wide drive to embed a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of harassment on campus.

Funding body the Higher Education Funding Council For England announced today it was backing the University’s plans to roll out a series of initiatives, in collaboration with students, promoting responsible behaviour and enhancing victim support. This follows the introduction of a new, centralised procedure to deal with harassment and sexual assault between Cambridge students (link to website) last month.

HEFCE has awarded the University funding that will enable Collegiate Cambridge to invest an extra £87,000 in prevention and support over the next year.

The money will fund the expansion of awareness-raising on consent with additional online training, while students will be coached on how to spot and tackle inappropriate behaviour at events under the new  bystander programme, the Intervention Initiative. The 'Good Lad' campaign to promote respect and tolerance will also be rolled out across sports clubs.

The grant will also support a new service offering emotional and practical support from a specialist for students who have experienced harassment or sexual assault. An anonymous reporting system will also be brought in to make it easier for students to come forward and report incidents.

To complement the service, in collaboration with the university, Cambridge Rape Crisis will train key staff in the University and Colleges, teaching them how to support victims of sexual misconduct.

The work will build on a series of initiatives at the Collegiate University to promote responsible behaviour, including the introduction of a code of conduct for students, and work on culture change. Support for students continues to be offered through the University Counselling Service and specialist welfare support in the Colleges.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education at the University of Cambridge, Professor Graham Virgo, said: "Providing students with a safe environment has always been a priority at the University of Cambridge. 

"In order to allow our students to thrive, and take full advantage of the world class education Cambridge offers, our community must remain one where all students and staff are safe and protected from any form of violence, sexual harassment or hate. 

"We welcome HEFCE's support, which will allow us to build on work to ensure our students receive the appropriate advice and services to support their mental health and wellbeing. 

"We recognise there is more to do to tackle these complex and important issues effectively and make sure that discrimination is a thing of the past.

"However, this funding will help us take a significant step forward in embedding a culture of zero-tolerance to all forms of abuse and discrimination."

Cambridge University Students’ Union Women’s Officer Audrey Sebatindira said: "The prevention and support work will build on the awareness raising around consent and culture change work by CUSU, clearly demonstrating to students that the Collegiate University takes allegations of harassment and sexual misconduct very seriously and is putting in place the right support for victims."

The HEFCE funded initiatives are being developed with input from Cambridge Rape Crisis, Cambridgeshire Police, Cambridgeshire Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Partnership, Cambridge University Students’ Union, the Good Lad initiative and the student-led social action society Cambridge Hub.