Students Staff

Student experience

18 July 2019

New academic building set for Colchester Campus

Filed under: Campus news, Latest news, Student experience — Communications, CER @ 12:37 pm
 architects image of the new academic building Colchester Campus

Our new academic building will provide accommodation for staff and help us provide a transformational educational experience for our students.

Our University Strategy 2019-25 maps out an exciting period of growth for our University, anticipating expansion to 20,000 students and 1,000 researchers.

Our Capital Investment Plan outlines the ways in which we will accommodate this growth, including plans for a new Academic Building on our Colchester Campus.

The proposed £26m new building will house approximately 250 staff while also helping us provide a transformational learning experience for our students through multi-functional learning spaces, collaborative working spaces, study spaces, adaptable events spaces, a common room, department receptions and a café.

Situated on the north side of Colchester Campus the project will also see the refurbishment of Rayleigh square to provide outdoor space for socialising and outdoor study and learning. See what the new building will look like on Flickr.

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28 June 2019

Reaching out to young people this summer

Filed under: Campus news, Latest news, People pages, Student experience, What's on — Communications, CER @ 1:51 pm

Two summer schools will invite young people to our campus this summer to learn about and experience university life.

Over the next two weeks, the Outreach team will be welcoming around 150 students onto our Colchester Campus for a university residential experience that they will never forget.

Our summer schools are designed for students who come from backgrounds that are underrepresented in higher education and are the perfect opportunity for them to discover more about university. They raise aspirations, knowledge and attainment through an innovative set of activities.

Two summer schools will give students the opportunity to immerse themselves into university life, both academically through taster sessions and socially as they will be staying in our University accommodation.

Our year 10 summer school, funded through Make Happen – the Essex partnership for the National Collaborative Outreach Program-  will see students taking part in a one-night residential, working with University of Essex academics to produce an academic poster arguing passionately for or against one of the following topics:

Year 12 visitors will experience the five-day programme filled with lectures, seminars, and independent research time to prepare them for university applications and degree-level academic writing. As part of the application process, students were invited to write a  500-word application on one of the following strands:

  • Mental Health Uncut: Critically consider the role of social media in the development of mental health problems.
  • Detention in the USA: Trump has detained many asylum seeking families, do you think this affects people’s Human Rights?
  • Global Meltdown: Young people in the UK are not affected by worldwide environmental concerns. Discuss.
  • Biological Sciences: A life for a life: Is the use of embryonic stem cells in medical research justified? Argue passionately for and against.
  • Business Studies: Write about somebody in business you admire: Tell us why you think they make a good business person. Think about their professional image, behaviour and reputation.
  • Literature, Film and Theatre Studies: Delve into the fascinating world of relationships by immersing yourself in one of our key texts. Critically analyse how relationships are depicted in your text by writing an essay. Or, you may feel inspired to write a poem, song, rap, short story, piece of drama, epilogue or prologue.

Both year groups will be living in our on campus accommodation, using the academic and social facilities and experiencing life as a University of Essex student. Current students act as role models throughout the summer school to share their experiences and inspire them to follow their footsteps into university.

Summer schools are part of the University’s outreach program of activity which is designed to work with underrepresented groups in higher education and give them to tools and confidence needed to progress to Higher Education. More information about the University’s outreach activities can be found on our outreach website.

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30 May 2019

Routes for reporting an incident

Filed under: Campus news, Latest news, People pages, Student experience — Communications, CER @ 11:49 am

We want to make it as easy as possible for any member of our community to report an incident. We have a number of routes for reporting, and we encourage anyone with a concern to consider making a report.

  • We launched our Report and Support system to make it as easy as possible for anyone, including visitors, to report an incident. The system is available on our website and reports can be made anonymously if preferred.
  • Our Student Conduct Office can receive and deal with complaints and full contact details are on our website. Our Code of Student Conduct is built on the principle that all students are expected to maintain a standard of conduct which supports the University’s commitment to excellence, promotes good order and the good name of our University. In accepting an offer of a place at Essex, every student is bound by our rules and regulations – including those in the Code of Student Conduct.
  • Our Human Resources section deals with formal complaints made by staff or students – about our staff. Our People Supporting Strategy seeks to ensure we have a diverse workforce in a safe, discrimination/harassment-free environment.
  • Our Security team provide 24/7 cover to our campuses and deal with complaints and incidents reported from across our University. All of our emergency contact details are on our website.
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17 May 2019

Our new vision for student development

Filed under: Latest news, Student experience — Communications, CER @ 11:11 am

Richard Stock, our Academic Registrar, tells us more about our new vision for student development and how our new Student Development team will lead and support delivery of the vision.

Focusing on the needs of our students is central to the University’s mission. We offer a transformational education and put support for every student from every background at the heart of everything we do to enable them to achieve outstanding outcomes. Our transformational offer is supported by the work we do to equip our students with the skills to develop as individuals while they are with us to reach their aspirations and to prepare for the next stage of their lives beyond Essex.

As we embark on our new Strategic Plan, we have developed an ambitious new vision for how we will support our students’ development. The vision has three overarching components:

  • Supporting our students as they make the transition into our global learning community, maximising their resilience, ambition and capacity to succeed and develop.
  • Supporting our students to develop throughout their educational experience, enabling them to have the study skills and wider personal development opportunities they need to achieve their academic potential.
  • Providing insight into the effectiveness of our support for individual student development, using data to identify barriers to student success, enabling us to take actions that have real impact in transforming our students’ lives.

From 1 August 2019, a new Student Development team will be established in the Academic Section to lead the delivery of the new vision. The team will bring together the existing Employability & Careers Centre and the Talent Development Centre. The changes also affect colleagues in the current Student Engagement team.

How will the changes enhance the support on offer to our students?

The process of change to establish the new team will see an increase in staffing overall across the new Student Development team. In designing the new team, in consultation with colleagues, we have been able to reshape our existing structures, resources and ways of working to increase capacity to support Departments, to be more responsive to the needs of our students and to enable a clearer and more coherent offer.

How will the newly formed single team cover the priorities of the current teams?

The new team will bring integrated leadership to four related areas of responsibility:

  • Skills for Success will provide support for students as they make the transition into higher education and will support them to develop through their educational experience, enabling them to have the study skills they need to succeed. This area will include international language, academic, numeracy and digital skills. As well as the delivery of embedded teaching, the team will work with Faculties and Departments to identify priorities and to offer short-term, targeted support.
  • Work-Based Learning, Industry & Placements will oversee the sourcing and development of placements, work-based learning, including practice placements, internships, entrepreneurship and innovation, industrial liaison and employer engagement and will support students to prepare for the world of work. For industry and placements, each Department will continue to have a named individual to develop department specific knowledge and expertise in relation to work-based learning and we have increased the number of student-facing roles to support student engagement in relation to placements. Support for innovation and enterprise has been embedded into roles as a distinct area requiring support and development.
  • Building on the success of the ‘Hub and Spoke’ model in supporting Faculties and Departments, the Faculty Coordination team will enable a holistic view across all Faculties, working closely with Departments to determine and plan for Career Development Learning and advice. The team will ensure that insights and best practice are shared across the Faculty boundaries and we have increased the number of Careers Advisers to reflect present demand and to plan for growth, including expansion at Southend.
  • The Career Services team will be focused on the development and delivery of professional and proactive careers services for students, enabling them to have the wider personal development opportunities they need. We will be integrating access to careers services with the Student Services Hub in order to raise visibility of the services to students and expand access times and availability.

How will Departments interact with the new team?

The new Student Development team structure maintains features of the ‘Hub and Spoke’ model (currently used in the Employability & Careers Centre) and seeks to build on the proven value of working closely with Faculties and Departments to shape and deliver our work around local needs. The Faculty-facing element of the ‘spokes’ will continue but with an expanded ‘hub’ to enable greater operational resilience, the sharing of expertise and opportunities to maximise the more effective use of resources.

How have colleagues contributed to the development of the new team?

There has been extensive consultation over the last few months. Informal discussions with key stakeholders and affected staff as well as formal consultation have now concluded. The process of change has also enabled us to seek feedback from Departments about their demand for skills support to understand current and future need. In response, we are increasing the support for numeracy and the support available at the Southend Campus. We are also expanding the remit of specific roles to reflect the future need in relation to digital skills.

How will the changes impact on the important work of the Talent Development Centre?

For the new Skills for Success team, the changes being introduced will move us to a position to deliver in full the policy agreed by Senate in relation to academic skills support. The changes will allow us to meet the particular peaks of demand for skills support in the autumn term. In terms of hours of teaching capacity, current embedded teaching demand across all levels in the autumn term is around 1300 hours across all campuses. The changes we are making will release capacity to enable all departments to have the 5 hours of small class teaching for first year undergraduates, which will represent a significant increase in the present teaching hours to over 2100.

Overall, through the changes we are making, the full-time equivalence in the Skills for Success team will increase in comparison to the current Talent Development Centre.

How do the changes align with the University’s commitment to decasualisation of the workforce?

All colleagues will be remaining on permanent contracts of employment. In order to align our resources effectively to meet our students’ needs across the academic year, the new team will operate new patterns of work. Skills tutors’ contracts will be full-time during the autumn and spring terms to reflect the full-time teaching demand during this half of the year. The changes are supported by a new workload model based on the established model used by Essex Pathways.

Once colleagues working in this area have been allocated to roles within the new structure, we will be recruiting additional staff on permanent, part-time contracts to support autumn term delivery in particular. As a consequence, we are envisaging eliminating the requirement for the use of casual staff to support the needs of our students for skills support. Over time, as we increase our year round support activity and work with Departments to shape our services, we will consider investing in future permanent roles through the usual planning round process.

How will scholarship and programme development be promoted?

The new structure recognises the importance of scholarship and programme development. The workload model we have developed for the Skills for Success team in consultation with colleagues includes hours ring-fenced for personal and professional development such as attending conferences, visiting other universities, internal training, peer-observation, pedagogic activities to maintain expertise, individual supervision and team meetings, away days, collaboration with Departments about content and summer projects. In shaping these aspects of the work of the team, we have drawn explicitly on the approach used in Essex Pathways.

How will the new team be supported?

Administrative support arrangements have been reshaped but the overall full-time equivalence is not being reduced and there is no reduction in services to students. Support in Southend will be expanded. We are integrating student access to our academic support services into our broader student services delivered by the Student Services Hub. This will enable initial enquires to be managed via the Student Information Team, which is a larger team working flexibly across all three campuses. The changes will ensure longer hours of access and greater visibility for students and parity of experience across our campuses. The helpdesk space currently occupied by the Talent Development Centre will continue to be used for student-facing Student Development activities.

What other changes will be happening alongside the creation of the Student Development team?

In addition to enhancing the ways in which we will be supporting students, we are creating additional capacity to evaluate the effectiveness of our support. Working closely with the Finance, Planning & Data Insight team, a new role will enable improved insight of the University’s educational performance in support of individual student development and success. The role will help to ensure that the impact of our services can be evaluated based on robust data, providing a firm evidence for identifying future priorities and realising the full potential of, for example, the Learner Engagement Activity Portal (LEAP).

A new Student Experience team has also been created, which will take responsibility for Student Voice, Welcome and Induction and Registration. This team will be located alongside the Student Development team in the Student Life team in the Academic Section.

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4 October 2018

New online system for extenuating circumstances and late submission

Filed under: Latest news, Student experience — Communications, CER @ 10:58 am

A new online system is being launched that will digitise extenuating circumstances and late submission claims. Here, project manager Kevin Delves tells us more about the project and the benefits of new system.

Tell us, briefly, how this new system/approach has come about. What problem was it setting out to tackle?

We wanted to make the experience as easy as possible for students – modernising the process by moving from a paper form that needs to be handed in to an online form. We also had feedback from colleagues that processing extenuating circumstances claims at the busy exam board time was a real pressure point. We developed the idea for the system through consultation with the Students’ Union and with colleagues.

When will the new system go live?

Monday 15 October.

Where can students access it?

Via My Essex, Faser, and the University of Essex Website.

Where can staff access it?

In the first phase staff will be notified of Extenuating Circumstances and Late Submission claims via email to a central inbox that is department specific. In subsequent phases of the project, which will be delivered during this academic year, we will enhance the staff screens with additional functionality to support the management of claims.

What are the main changes?

The main change for students is the ability to complete the form online and submit supporting evidence as part of the same application. The online system has also combined Extenuating Circumstances with Late Submission so that it is now one form for both claims.  The system will also improve communication with students about progress with their claim.

What are the benefits to students?

Ease of use and more convenient and better communication throughout the process.

What are the benefits to staff?

Improved consistency in the management of claims, reduction in the number of claim submissions mislaid/misfiled, reduction in administrative time to manage the process, reduction in time and costs associated with a paper based process, and better information on the understanding of issues affecting students.

For anyone who doesn’t know, what are: “Extenuating Circumstances?” and how do they differ from “Late Submissions”?

Extenuating circumstances are circumstances beyond your control which have an impact on your assessed work. Extenuating circumstances can fall into the following categories:

  • Circumstances which cause you to perform less well in the assessment
  • Circumstances which cause you to miss an assessment event or not to submit an assessment

The University has a specific policy and guidance on Late Submission:

  • Circumstances where you are unable to submit coursework by the deadline or to attend a summative assessment event
  • Circumstances which mean you need extra time to submit a dissertation (taught postgraduate students only)

In general, extenuating circumstances will be of a medical or personal nature affecting you for any significant period of time and/or on the day of the assessment event, or immediately preceding the time of the deadline.

How will streamlining the process save time and improve the experience?

The solution is aiming to enhance the student experience of submitting a claim by making it easier to use, and ensuring communication at all stages. It will also support staff in the more effective management and processing of claims by reducing inefficiencies in the paper process by moving it online.

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13 July 2018

Making it happen – whatever the score

Filed under: Latest news, Student experience, What's on — Communications, CER @ 11:06 am

Our Make Happen students have been on campus for their residential summer school.

Year 12 students from Essex and beyond cheered for England from their residential summer school on Colchester Campus this week.

Their schedule was changed to allow them the chance to catch the game during their busy week –  living the student life,  staying in halls of residence and checking out what university offers them.

The summer schools are being run by the University of Essex and Make Happen – the collaborative outreach programme aimed at inspiring the young people of Essex to look at higher education as a route to achieving their ambitions.

The focus for some of the students at this week’s Make Happen residential  summer school is sport science – and the young people have been learning about working in elite sports, using movement and exercise to rehabilitate injuries and how to use cutting edge performance analysis techniques in coaching.

The students enjoyed watching the England match as part of their experience of living on campus

Make Happen’s Luke French said  “ It’s the dream of many of our guests to work in elite sport, you never know  we may have the England Football Team coach  or physio for the 2022 World Cup in our midst!”

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6 June 2018

Enter our data analysis competition for your chance to win £200

Filed under: Latest news, Student experience — Communications Office @ 12:31 pm

UKDA logoHave you used data for secondary analysis in your final year project or dissertation at Essex? We’re offering a prize for your research!

We’re looking for research that highlights social and economic issues and also showcases an interesting re-use of quantitative or qualitative data, available through the UK Data Archive.

The Essex Secondary Data Analysis Award is open to each level of study including undergraduate, Masters and PhD. A panel of lecturers and researchers across the Faculty of Social Sciences will judge the entries.

The winning candidate from each level of study will receive a prize of £200 in Amazon vouchers. Through the UK Data Archive at Essex, the winners will also get to showcase their quantitative and qualitative skills to the wider academic community, plus potential employers such as The Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research UK.

The winning entries and their key findings will be publicised in Essex Weekly and on the Essex website (if the winning students and their supervisors give permission).

How to enter

You’ll need to  submit an executive summary (two A4 pages maximum) outlining your research question, data used, methodology, results and example of your evidence such as table, graph or excerpt from interview transcript of your course work to the UK Data Archive.

Before you submit, please check for completeness and clarity of any graphs and illustrations, and accurate data citation

The deadline is 16 September 2018

We’ll contact shortlisted candidates by the end of September, and ask you to submit an electronic copy of your full work. Then we’ll announce the winners in October.

Terms and Conditions

The competition is open to any Essex students who have used quantitative or qualitative data available through the UK Data Archive in their research. This can include mixed methods approaches if one of the data sources is available from the UK Data Archive. Work submitted that does not use data from the UK Data Archive will be disqualified.

This competition is open to any undergraduate, Masters or PhD student enrolled at the University of Essex in any discipline for third year projects or dissertations on social and economic issues. Essex alumni or staff currently working at Essex who submitted dissertations in the last two years can enter. Entries can be submitted either by individuals or by department and schools.

By entering the competition, you hereby warrant that all information submitted by you is true, current and complete. The UK Data Archive reserves the right to verify the eligibility of all entrants.

For further details please contact the UK Data Archive.

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1 June 2018

Being an Essex Intern changed my life – let it change yours too!

Filed under: Campus news, Student experience — Laura Mathias @ 10:57 am
Recent graduate, Mihaela Popova, reflects on her time as an Essex Intern

Recent graduate, Mihaela Popova, reflects on her time as an Essex Intern

My name is Mihaela and I am just about to finish my internship as an Executive Support Project Officer in the Vice-Chancellor and Registrar’s Office (VCRO). I graduated from the University in 2017 with a BA in International Relations. During my years at Essex, I worked close to full time to support myself, so I didn’t really take part in many extracurricular activities, such as volunteering, and my CV was a bit bare. I knew that, in order to get a rewarding job, I needed to gain more experience, so I decided to sign up for Essex Interns. And what can I say, to this day, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

I was receiving emails about different internships from Essex Interns almost every day and there was a wide variety of opportunities to choose from. However, I didn’t want to apply for just anything, I wanted to apply for an internship I felt I was right for. I waited for a while and then I received an email about a research orientated internship in the VCRO. When I read the job description, I knew I was perfect for the job. I put a lot of effort into my cover letter and I contacted the Employability and Careers Centre to review it. The staff were amazing and provided support and guidance throughout my application. Still, I read it over and over again and submitted it at the very last minute (typical). I was quickly invited to interview, and got the internship! I was so happy, I knew I was perfect for the job and was glad that the panel thought so too.

I started the role in November on a four month contract and immediately felt like a part of the team. I was extremely grateful for having a chance to work in the Executive Office of the University. Looking back now, I am even more grateful to my amazing manager who trusted me with so many different tasks. She gave me support through the completion of my assignments and even arranged for me to meet members of staff working in the areas I was interested in. She was always providing me with different development opportunities, which is really the point of Essex Interns.

Although the internship was mostly research orientated, there was so much more to it – I helped with events management, focus groups, I set up a survey, created the University organisation structure chart, selected artwork, supervised students, and so much more. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy but it was rewarding. I worked really hard and got offered an extension to my contract… twice! I was so happy, I felt that my hard work was being recognised and appreciated – I had never felt that way before.

Now we’re approaching the end of my internship and I can honestly say that these last seven months have been incredible. I have learnt so much and I don’t even know how to explain how much I will miss the time I’ve spent in the VCRO. I met amazing people, inside and out of the office. I was able to attend meetings and talk to senior members of staff which has made me confident and improved my communication skills dramatically. I used to be this shy girl with the empty CV and now I am a confident young woman with a great set of skills. I will be forever grateful to everyone in the VCRO, especially my manager who supported me from day one. My experience was outstanding and I’m really sad that it’s coming to an end but it’s time to start the next chapter.

I strongly advise graduates to pursue intern opportunities because they really are a once in a lifetime experience which will open a lot of doors. As an intern, you will meet professionals around the University and you’ll build connections and networks which will benefit you in the future. All internships are different but they will teach you the same thing – it doesn’t matter whether you’re a student or graduate, the University will help you achieve your goals, you just need to let it.

One last word of advice from me: if you’re in your final year, make sure you seek the help of the Employability & Careers team and Essex Interns. I have them to thank for everything!

 

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11 May 2018

A new vision for our wellbeing services

Filed under: Latest news, People pages, Student experience — Communications, CER @ 11:16 am

Angela Jones is our Head of Student Support. Here she tells us about the new vision for our wellbeing services.

We have a new vision for our well being services which will mean a better service for our students.

We have a new vision for our well being services which will mean a better service for our students.

What sort of changes are going on in the wellbeing team/service?

Our team is made up of dedicated staff committed to student wellbeing – we are always reflecting on our services and thinking about how we can make them better for our students.  We’ve recognised that changes in society and growth in student numbers mean we need to develop our services. National (and international) research has identified new ways of supporting and promoting wellbeing and we want to be able to implement these innovations. We are therefore reconfiguring our offer – while we will continue to provide or support the services we offer at present, we are proposing to expand into new areas. We want to work proactively with the Students’ Union, Occupational Health and other internal and external partners to support prevention and help our students thrive and get the most out of their time at Essex.  Our new vision is, as part of the Healthy University Sub-strategy, to create a healthy and inclusive community in which every student has the tools to enable them to succeed:

Are these physical moves/changes?

No.  Our service will continue to be provided in Southend, Loughton and Colchester and accessed via the Student Hub is each of these locations.

How will the changes impact on staff/students?

The whole reason behind the changes is to respond to student need and demand.  Feedback via the SU change week has identified a clear desire for more interventions, a wider range of support and more counselling.  Feedback from students with individual needs has identified as need to make our community more inclusive.  Responding to this feedback, our proposed restructure will increase significantly the volume of counselling we can offer as well as create roles dedicated to launching new activities and working with academic colleagues in departments to improve inclusivity and support students.

Is there a period where we will be directed somewhere else for support? For the majority of students no.  Services will continue as normal. If changes may affect individual students eg, for some DSA funded provision,  we will work closely with them to support them through any change.

How will this impact support that students receive?

  • Availability for student counselling at Colchester Campus will increase by 30%
  • By increasing appointments with a wellbeing assessor, we will reduce the waiting time for students to be seen
  • More one to one and groups will be available – tell us what you think would be most useful to prioritise

Why is wellbeing so important?

Physical and mental health is important for all of us.  We all experience periods of feeling great, and times when we are below par.  In order to thrive and get the most out of life, we need to take care of our health.  That is why we are proposing to tackle the issue of wellbeing in a holistic and proactive way- we don’t want to wait until someone is unwell to act – as part of the broader agenda of being a Heathy University, epitomised by our new HUSS, we want to help our students be well, stay well and get well. We can then play a part in making sure every member of our community is given the tools to achieve their full potential.

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27 October 2017

Zero tolerance of sexual violence, harassment or hate crime

Filed under: Campus news, Latest news, People pages, Student experience — Communications, CER @ 3:14 pm

The University of Essex does not tolerate any acts of sexual violence, harassment, or hate crime.

Zero tolerance means that we will take action and that the action will be proportionate to the circumstances of the case.

We recognise that the issue of sexual violence, harassment and hate crime is a global problem, but we are doing what we can  to tackle it here – and are working hard to put a stop to it in our community.

In March our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Anthony Forster, set out our commitment to being an inclusive community with a zero tolerance of hate crime and sexual violence.

Since then, work has progressed. Here’s an update of what we’ve achieved so far:

Progress on the Tackling Sexual Violence, Harassment and Hate Crime Project

We have a high level University Action Plan. Our Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jules Pretty, is the senior lead for this work, and the Director of Human Resources and the Academic Registrar are the people responsible for delivering the actions, all of which will be completed by the end of the academic year 2017–18.

A Project Officer has been appointed until July 2018 to support the implementation of the University’s Action Plan, and to work with colleagues from across the University and the Students’ Union to embed activity to shape the institutional culture in relation to sexual violence, harassment and hate crime.

Prevention

The university now offers bystander intervention awareness workshops. Bringing in the Bystander® is a bystander intervention workshop with a robust evidence-base. Rather than focusing strictly on the roles of perpetrator and victim, the highly interactive curriculum focuses on what you can do to intervene. It teaches bystanders how to safely intervene in instances where sexual violence, relationship violence or stalking may be occurring or where there may be risk that it will occur.

Book your place online now.

Watch our #ItEndsNow videos on YouTube and Vimeo

These workshops will help students, academics, professional services staff and community members to:

  • IDENTIFY behaviours on a continuum of violence
  • DEVELOP empathy for those who have experienced violence
  • PRACTICE safe and appropriate intervention skills
  • COMMIT to intervene before, during and after an incident of sexual abuse, relationship violence and stalking occurs

Read our guidelines for dealing with harassment and bullying.

Reporting and support

Contact itendsnow@essex.ac.uk for information and support. If an assault has just taken place and you are not in a safe place, feel at risk, or have any injuries that require urgent attention, call the emergency services on 999.

If you are on campus, please follow the guidance available online about emergency contacts.

If you are living in University accommodation on the Southend or Colchester campuses, Security can alert senior on-call Residence Life staff.

The University of Essex will moderate comments and there will be a delay before any posts appear.

 

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