Gender Based Violence Strategy 2021-24

Our aim

The University of Stirling and Stirling Students’ Union will take all steps within our power to prevent and respond effectively to gender-based violence (GBV) in our community, and to robustly address incidents of gender-based misconduct that affect our students and staff.

We want to foster a culture of respect and nurture a university community that does not tolerate – and feels confident and able to challenge and report – GBV in society.

The University and Students’ Union’s first ‘Preventing and Tackling Sexual Violence and Misconduct’ Strategy was published in 2017. With substantial investment throughout the last four years, and in collaboration with local and national partners, the University and Students’ Union have together developed a nationally recognised approach to tackling gender-based violence.

This strategy covering the period 2021-2024 consolidates and builds on the work of our first strategy. Crucially, it aims to broaden our approach to address the spectrum of GBV in line with the Scottish Government’s Equally Safe definition. This explicitly encapsulates not just sexual violence but all forms of GBV, including domestic and intimate partner violence, coercive control, stalking, online abuse, intimate image sharing, female genital mutilation, forced marriage and so called “honour-based violence.”

What we want to achieve: four strategic objectives

Objective 1

Objective 1: We will foster a culture where gender-based violence is actively challenged, robustly tackled and in which people experiencing GBV are respected, supported and empower

We will achieve this by:

  • Demonstrating visible and inspiring leadership that underlines the University and Students’ Union commitment to preventing and tackling GBV.
  • Adopting the Erase the Grey Campaign, demonstrating the University’s commitment to tackling GBV and challenging unacceptable attitudes and conduct.
  • Delivering and enhancing our training programmes for staff, students, and University Court to cover and raise awareness of the spectrum of GBV, including non-physical violence (e.g. domestic/intimate partner abuse, coercive control, stalking).
  • Undertaking a review of our GBV website to ensure that information is readily accessible and fit for purpose, covering the spectrum of GBV.
  • Adopting and widely promoting commonly accepted definitions of GBV and gender-based misconduct.
  • Delivering a communications plan to widely promote the University’s expectations of staff and students, available support, procedures, and progress of our work to our community, prospective staff and students, and partners.
  • Contributing to the delivery of the Stirling GBV Strategy and tackling GBV in the City of Stirling through working in partnership with agencies such as Forth Valley College, Stirling Council, the entertainment industry/night-time economy, and third sector partners. Exploring collaborations with neighbouring local authorities with relatively high University of Stirling populations, such as Clackmannanshire Council.
  • Ensuring that policies and procedures relating to the online/digital environment specifically reference GBV and the consequence of perpetration.
  • Considering a personal safety campaign, e.g., self-defence training programme.
  • Identifying campus safety improvements, through the work of the Health & Safety Committee.

Student specific:

  • Including information about our approach to preventing and tackling GBV in recruitment materials and Open Day content.
  • Requiring all new staff and students to undertake appropriate training on GBV and their responsibilities in prevention and response.
  • Clarifying the role of officers and members of Clubs and Societies in relation to preventing and responding to GBV, including mandatory requirements in relation to training and response procedures for all clubs affiliating with the Students’ Union.
  • Embedding content on GBV into the university curriculum and student and staff life programmes such as Welcome & Orientation and Be Connected.

Objective 2

Objective 2: We will respond robustly and effectively to incidents of gender-based misconduct when they occur in our community.

We will achieve this by:

  • Adopting and widely promoting commonly accepted, accessible definitions of GBV and gender-based misconduct which clarify the spectrum of behaviours.
  • Requiring all new staff to undertake appropriate training on GBV, their responsibilities, and the University's response to reports of gender-based misconduct; rolling out similar training to the existing staff body.
  • Rolling out First Responder training across the staff body, particularly to line managers and those in student facing roles e.g., Accommodation Services, Security, Student’s Union staff.
  • Continuing to review staff and student misconduct investigation processes, paying regard to sector guidelines and best practice.
  • Implementing the recommendations of the 2021 internal review of HR recruitment and employment processes, including clear policies on staff-student relationships, non-disclosure agreements, employment references and direct appointments.
  • Raising awareness of policies and procedures regarding misconduct and GBV across the student and staff body, ensuring that the University and Police Scotland responses and disciplinary procedures are clearly communicated, and expectations of the process are clear from the outset and well managed.
  • Continuing to review and enhance risk assessment and case management frameworks, paying due regard to sector guidelines and best practice.
  • Publishing anonymised, aggregated data about the University's response to disclosures of GBV on an annual basis.

Objective 3

Objective 3: We will ensure that our staff and students are (i) clear about their options and receive appropriate support if they have experienced gender-based violence; and (ii) are clear about how to appropriately respond to and support those who have experienced gender-based violence.

We will achieve this by:

  • Evaluating user experiences of the Report and Support Tool and subsequent support.
  • Delivering a First Responder training programme for staff and student officers, and continue to promote First Responder guidance.
  • Taking steps to clearly manage the expectations of students and staff who are seeking support or wish to report an incident of GBV to the University or the Police.
  • Continue to strengthen and nurture partnerships at internal, local and national level, including collaborations and referral pathways with specialist support agencies.
  • Review guidance and support for responding/reported persons, paying due regard to sector guidelines and best practice.
  • Continue to invest in, develop and promote the SVMLO network.
  • Reviewing and enhancing support for members of our community who have been subjected to domestic abuse/intimate partner violence.

Objective 4

Objective 4: We will improve our knowledge and understanding about the prevalence of and impact of our work to prevent and tackle gender-based violence.

We will achieve this by:

  • Undertaking staff and student surveys focusing on experiences of GBV, and experiences of the University's support and response at least every two years. We will seek to participate in sector wide collaborative surveys where possible.
  • Including evaluation mechanisms in all training programmes delivered to our staff and students, including evaluation of attitudinal change.
  • Providing reports on data gathered, including number of reports of GBV and outcomes of disciplinary procedures, to USPG and University Court on an annual basis.
  • Engaging with members of our community with lived experience of GBV and those who access our support or processes in relation to GBV.
  • Undertake ongoing review and consideration of emerging sectoral guidance and best practice.

Values-based guiding principles

We will adopt a holistic, institution wide approach to our work to prevent and respond to GBV. Six values-based principles will enable the delivery of the strategy and will be fundamental to its success.

Our approach will be:

Victim/survivor-focused and trauma-informed

We recognise the importance of ensuring victim-survivors are at the centre of our work to address GBV, and that our response to those who have experienced GBV is trauma-informed.

Based on a culture of strong leadership

We will demonstrate committed, inspirational and impactful senior leadership to deliver our strategy whilst also encouraging and highlighting positive leadership behaviours at all levels in our university community.


We will adopt an intersectional approach to our work to prevent and tackle GBV. We recognise that some people are more at risk of being subjected to gender-based violence because of factors such as their biological sex, gender identity, ethnicity, disability, and sexual orientation, and that similarly, different people will respond to gender-based violence in different ways. We also recognise that abuse is a consequence and a cause of inequality and power imbalance.


We will continue to seek out and be informed by current evidence, which may include feedback from our university community and partners, sectoral evidence, national guidelines and government policy.


We value a multi-agency approach based on strong partnerships internally and with our students, staff and local and national agencies.


We will take proactive action to prevent GBV and foster a culture whereby our university community does not tolerate and is confident to actively challenge GBV. We will inspire, educate and support our staff and students to proactively challenge GBV in all its forms.

How we will measure success

Baseline data and trends will be captured in the supporting monitoring and evaluation framework. We will seek to utilise recognised, established sources of data where possible. Other data sources are likely to include staff pulse surveys/culture surveys, student surveys and qualitative data obtained from engagement with those with lived experiences. We will also seek to evaluate the impact of our training programmes and awareness raising work.

Data will be both qualitative and quantitative as appropriate, and we will utilise proxy data where necessary. The evaluation framework will be overseen by the GBV Strategy Group, which is chaired by the Dean of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion and will report progress to University Strategy and Policy Group (USPG), the Equality Steering Group, the Student Experience Committee, Joint Policy, Planning and Resources Committee (JPPRC), Academic Council and University Court.