Domestic Abuse Policy Guidance for UK Universities

Ignored for too long: Over 185,000 staff and students at universities across UK suffer ‘domestic abuse every year’ and shockingly only 9 out of 133 UK Universities have a specific domestic abuse policy according to pioneering research

Claire Waxman, Victims Commissioner

onEvidence acted as consultant to HARM network, University of Central Lancashire, to deliver this innovative project.

Funding: Research England.

Domestic Abuse Policy Guidance for UK Universities
Domestic Abuse Policy Guidance for UK Universities

Phase 1: Research

onEvidence worked with researchers Beth Hall and Amy Roberts (HARM network, UCLan), to explore the extent of domestic abuse at UK universities.

We found that over 185,000 staff and students experience this devastating form of abuse each year. We also found that full time female students are the most at-risk group in terms of occupation, and that disabled staff and students are twice as likely to suffer abuse as those without disabilities.

Research infographic - Domestic abuse policies and guidance across UK universities

In response to these troubling statistics, onEvidence designed a survey that was sent to 131 UK universities. The purpose of the survey was to determine the level of support offered to victims and those at risk. We found that only a handful of universities in the UK had a specific domestic abuse policy and that most had no guidance or training in place.

Phase 2: Guidance

This new guidance will help universities to tackle domestic violence more effectively and systematically

Amy Norton, Office for Students

HARM network convened a multidisciplinary panel of experts to feed into a proposed guidance paper to support university policy makers and HR to develop domestic abuse policy.

onEvidence designed a survey that was sent to the panel members to gather recommendations to inform the guidance development. We then consulted throughout the life of the project, designed the final guidance paper and infographics, and worked with our client to formulate a dissemination strategy to ensure maximum impact.

Phase 3: Dissemination

onEvidence designed a dissemination strategy and campaign materials which included email and social media, a newsletter, and an online event with speakers, including the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, Fiona Drouet MBE, Professor Graham Towl, and Amy Norton, Office for Students.


…a valuable resource to ensure students and staff are safe & supported

Farah Nazeer, CEO Women’s Aid

The project has been well received by UK universities as well as leading domestic abuse charities and safeguarding organisations. In the first 12 weeks of publication, the research and guidance papers had over 2000 downloads.

A programme evaluation will be undertaken in 2023 to determine the effectiveness of this intervention.

onEvidence have recently developed a training course to enable university staff to respond sensitively and effectively to disclosures of domestic abuse, and to safeguard at-risk colleagues and students in an inclusive and culturally competent way. Click here to find out more.

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