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Procedures and Policies

Harassment procedures guidance for students

Last updated: 5 September 2022


  1. Introduction
  2. Scope and Purpose
  3. What should I do if I believe I am being bullied, harassed or victimised?
  4. What should I do if I observe and incident of bullying, Harassment or victimisation?
  5. Who should I contact?
  6. What support is available?
  7. Reporting, investigating and tackling incidents of bullying, harassment and victimisation
  8. Informal Options
  9. Formal Procedures
  10. I have been accused of bullying/harassing someone else?
  11. Malicious, Vexatious or Frivolous Complaints
  12. Monitoring and Review

1. Introduction

1.1. The University is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment that helps to promote wellbeing and success regardless of background.

1.2. All students and staff have a responsibility to respect the feelings, inclinations, cultural, religious and belief differences of others, being aware of how their behaviour could be perceived.

1.3. Bullying, harassment and victimisation are not tolerated and allegations will be taken seriously, considered carefully and acted upon appropriately.

1.4. These procedures should not stop or delay any report to the police that you think is necessary. To report a crime in an emergency dial 999, for the reporting of non-emergency incidents dial 101 or report anonymously via Crime Stoppers 0800 555 111.

2. Scope and Purpose

2.1. These procedures are for students who believe they may be experiencing or been accused of exhibiting behaviours of bullying, harassment or victimisation at the University. A separate policy exists for members of staff available via the Human Resources web pages.

2.2. The purpose of these procedures is to promote a culture where bullying, harassment and victimisation are not tolerated and where allegations of such behaviour are dealt with fairly and without fear of discrimination or recrimination.

2.3. These procedures cover harassment of students by another student, or by a member of University staff.

2.4. Any contact will be treated confidentially however in exceptional circumstances we may have to disclose information but we would make every effort do this with the knowledge and agreement of the individuals involved. Examples of these exceptions are:

2.5. Bullying, harassment and victimisation may:

3. What should I do if I believe I am being bullied, harassed or victimised?

3.1. If you feel you are experiencing bullying, harassment or victimisation in your role as a student of the University, do not feel that it is your fault or you have to put up with it. The University’s primary concern is that you should receive appropriate support, assistance and confidential advice.

3.2. Anyone who experiences or witnesses bullying, harassment or victimisation should not wait until the situation becomes intolerable. It is easier to stop any unwanted behaviour as soon as it occurs where incidents can be described in detail and witnesses are able to recall what they saw. Whilst there is no time limit, if you wish to raise or report an incident, either informally or formally, it is important that you do this as soon as possible after it has happened.

3.3. There are various ways you can deal with bullying, harassment and victimisation, ranging from asking the person to stop, to pursuing a formal complaint by writing to the Office of the Student Registrar.

3.4. Whilst you have the opportunity to make a formal complaint at any stage, wherever possible, complaints of bullying, harassment and victimisation will be dealt with informally, as this is more likely to produce solutions which are speedy and successful.

4. What should I do if I observe an incident of bullying, harassment
or victimisation

4.1. If you witness acts of bullying, harassment or victimisation that you consider as inappropriate behaviour, it is helpful if you:

5. Who should I contact?

5.1. If you feel bullied, harassed or victimised as a result of an incident(s) or if you have been accused of an act(s) of bullying, harassment or victimisation you may need help and support. Support is available primarily through Student Services Helpzones.

Or you may wish to consider;

5.2. Any contact will be treated confidentially (within normal boundaries see item 2.4) to discuss your concerns and options available to you.

6. What support is available?

6.1. Help and support is available through Student Services Helpzones, the Accommodation Team (for halls and housing related issues), Dignity Advisers, School/Department Staff and the Students’ Union.

6.2. The primary role of anyone supporting you is to listen, provide independent support and guidance regarding the range of options available to you.

6.3. These people will treat any matters you raise in confidence within the remit of legal responsibilities and the needs of investigating the allegations. Anonymised information will be recorded using the monitoring form in Appendix 2 for reporting purposes.

7. Reporting, investigating and tackling incidents of bullying, harassment and victimisation

7.1. The University takes all allegations of bullying, harassment and victimisation seriously. It is important that the matter is dealt with quickly, sensitively, confidentially and effectively for everyone involved.

7.2. Whilst the University encourages informal local resolution wherever possible, it is not always appropriate. Advice can be obtained from the contacts listed in 5.1. Where clarification is required, staff will seek guidance from the Student Registrar.

7.3. Where an incident is identified as a breach of the Student Code of Conduct or viewed as a act of gross misconduct, the formal process may be invoked immediately.

7.4. To report an incident of bullying, harassment or victimisation where the perpetrator is a member of staff, you are advised to raise the concerns with someone listed in 5.1. Dignity and Respect at Work Harassment and Bullying Policy (Staff).

7.5. Anonymised reports of incidents related to bullying, harassment or victimisation will be considered but may be disadvantaged by lack of evidence.

8. Informal Options

Informal options should be followed in order to deal with the incident quickly, sensitively, confidentially and effectively. Sometimes people are not aware that their behaviour has been viewed as inappropriate or unwelcome and an informal discussion can improve understanding
and help agreement to be reached to change the behaviour. Be prepared for their response, stay calm and focused on informing them how it has made you feel.

8.1. Personal resolution
Where possible, individuals should think of ways in which they can resolve the situation themselves by making it clear that they find the behaviour offensive and want it to stop. Options to consider but not limited to:

Remember that if you are arranging to speak to the perpetrator that you explain the purpose of your request and arrange a place to meet where you can talk discreetly. If you plan to meet the perpetrator with a friend for support, you should tell them beforehand.

It is helpful to use specific examples or evidence of the unwanted behaviour and say how this has made you feel. Brief notes of the discussion, and copies of any correspondence, should be kept by both parties in the event that follow-up action becomes necessary. The meeting should not be recorded unless everyone has agreed that they are happy to do this.

8.2. Local resolution
If your situation does not improve after an attempt at personal resolution or if you have not been able to raise the issue personally, you should contact the Student Services Helpzone to discuss the situation. You may also wish to consider seeking assistance from one of the following:

Local resolution remains an informal process. The member of staff or SU representative receiving your informal complaint is likely to approach the alleged perpetrator to give them the opportunity to put forward their perspective on the situation before proposing any action/follow up in
resolving the concerns you have raised. Alternatively if the situation permits, they may decide to discuss bullying, harassment and victimisation as part of a group in a general context to cover an issue you may have raised without informing them that you have reported an incident.

8.3. Resolving through Mediation
If the informal steps are either not sufficient or you feel they are inappropriate to stop the alleged bullying, harassment or victimisation you may wish to consider mediation as a means of finding agreed common ground. The University does not have a formal mediation service however it may be possible to involve someone with mediation skills to assist with the process. For further information, please contact the Office of the Student Registrar.

8.4. Outcome of informal procedures
Whichever of the informal methods chosen, the aim is to agree a way forward without further bullying, harassment or victimisation. If this is not possible then the formal procedures should be invoked within 10 working days of the date you attempted informal resolution or the matter will be regarded as closed.

9. Formal Procedures

Where informal resolution is not appropriate (e.g. due to the seriousness of the allegations) or where the outcome of informal resolution has been unsatisfactory, you may bring forward a formal complaint.

9.1. Complaints about other students
An incident of bullying, harassment or victimisation that breaches the University’s Student Code of Conduct will be dealt with under the Investigative Procedures for Student Matters.

Your complaint detailing the allegations of inappropriate behaviour should be made in writing to the Office of the Student Registrar or if within Halls of Residence or University managed accommodation, the Head of Student Housing.

If you are a student at a partner Institution and your complaint is about another student, you should follow that institution’s bullying and harassment or complaints procedure.

If you are a student on placement and your complaint is about another student on that placement who attends the University, you should inform Student Services as above. We will also need to involve the link tutor for your placement and the issue will be dealt with in line with any relevant
regulatory / professional framework.

9.2. Complaints about members of staff
Instances when a student has been harassed, bullied or victimised by an employee, agency staff, member of the governing body, contractor, or supplier undertaking work on behalf of the University, or any individual with honorary status, a complaint should be submitted in writing to
the Office of the Student Registrar. In this situation, the Dignity and Respect at Work Harassment and Bullying Policy and associated procedures will be invoked as necessary. Student Services will continue to offer support to the student involved.

If you are a student at a partner institution and your complaint relates to a member of staff at that institution, you should in the first instance pursue your complaint in accordance with the partner institution’s procedures.

If you are a student at a partner institution and your complaint relates to a member of staff at that institution, you should in the first instance pursue your complaint in accordance with the partner institution’s procedures.

10. I have been accused of bullying/harassing someone else

A fellow student or member of staff may have approached you to tell you that they are offended or upset by certain aspects of your behaviour, or you may have been approached by someone acting on behalf of the student or member of staff to inform you that an informal or formal complaint has been made against you. In having been accused of bullying, harassment or
victimisation you should seek advice from a member of staff or SU representative listed in 5.1.

You should bear in mind:

10.1. What should I do if I have received a formal complaint about my behaviour?
The University has a duty to investigate all reported incidents of bullying, harassment and victimisation. We have an equal duty of care to both the accuser and the accused. Allegations will not be presumed proved until properly investigated using the appropriate procedures.

If you have received notification that a formal complaint has been made in relation to an incident(s) you should:

11. Malicious, Vexatious or Frivolous Complaints

These procedures are intended to promote fairness and consistency in dealing with allegations of bullying, harassment and victimisation made in good faith.

Where a complaint is found to be based on allegation(s) made maliciously, vexaciously or frivolously, and/or on known false information, the complainant may be subject to disciplinary action.

Sometimes a complaint may prove impossible to uphold e.g. if the concern turns out to be a misunderstanding or is not capable of being substantiated. Providing the complainant was not acting maliciously, this will not lead to disciplinary action being taken against the complainant.

12. Monitoring and Review

In order to review the effectiveness of these procedures, we will monitor the level and nature of incidents of bullying, harassment and victimisation. The responsible staff member involved in the case should complete a monitoring form (Appendix 2) and forward to the Student Registrar for
statistical analysis. All personal details will be anonymised for reporting purposes.

Appendix 1

What constitutes harassment and bullying?

1. Harassment

As defined in the Equality Act 2010 is:

‘Unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual’.

People can be subjected to harassment on a wide variety of grounds, including in relation to the following ‘protected characteristics’:

Harassment includes behaviour that is offensive, frightening or in any way distressing. It may be intentional bullying which is obvious or violent but it can be unintentional or subtle and insidious.

The Equality Act 2010 protects people against harassment on the grounds of a perceived characteristic, even if that perception is incorrect e.g. making offensive remarks about gay people because an individual is perceived as gay, even though they are not.

An individual is also protected on the grounds of their association with another person who has a protected characteristic e.g. because they are a friend of a disabled person.

Harassment does not necessarily happen face-to-face; it can occur via written and electronic communications, such as telephone and email, SMS and on social media sites. Such behaviour might interfere with a student’s academic, working, living, or social environment, or induce anxiety, fear or poor attendance on the part of the person who feels harassed.

Below is a list of some behaviours that could constitute harassment and/or bullying:

2. Victimisation

Victimisation is defined as treating a person/group of people less favourably because of action they have taken under or in connection with equality legislation.

Below is a list of some behaviours that could constitute victimisation:

3. Bullying

Bullying is not specifically defined by law, but can be characterised as “offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, or an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient” (ACAS 2013 Bullying and Harassment at Work: A Guide for managers and employers). A single incident of harassment can constitute an offence while bullying usually requires a repeated number of incidences.

Bullying is offensive behaviour which humiliates and/or undermines an individual or group and need not be related to a ‘protected characteristic’ under law. Bullying may be carried out by an individual or group of individuals. It can happen in public or in private. Examples of being
bullied can include (but are not limited to) being:

4. Harassment by behaviour that causes alarm or distress, and stalking

An individual may be subject to persistent and unwanted behaviour from someone where the behaviour does not appear to be related to any of the ‘protected characteristics’ discussed above or where the nature of the behaviour may not be ‘bullying’ as is commonly understood.
Examples could include (but are not limited to):

5. Cyber-Bullying and Social Media

Social media, open forums and blogs are evolving continuously and are a common feature of everyday life, enabling and supporting both students and staff in academic and other collaborative opportunities. Unfortunately they are open to misuse and increasingly cited in cases of bullying, harassment and victimisation. Points to note:

Examples of cyber-bullying are outlined below (but are not limited to):

To criticize in a derogatory manner, to treat someone or something as if it is worth nothing. This could also include digitally altered images – often of a sexual nature – and videos or “memes” (images captioned usually with a sarcastic or cruel comment)

A situation where an on-line conversation, usually though not necessarily between two people, escalates into an intense argument with words or insults exchanged in the ‘heat-of-the-moment’. In real life, a ‘moment’ can pass extremely quickly, but on-line moments can linger for hours or days.

Most ‘flaming’ exchanges are insulting in nature. If a flaming exchange is available for public viewing, an untrue assertion made, and genuine harm is caused, it could be taken to be libellous and therefore potentially actionable under civil law.

Impersonation refers to instances where the perpetrator poses as the victim – usually by stealing the victim’s password and accessing their genuine on-line account – and behaves inappropriately to the detriment of the victim, e.g. by posting negative or inflammatory comments, or sending nasty or other inappropriate messages et cetera, as if they were from the victim. Alternatively, the perpetrator could try to pose fraudulently as the victim by setting up a new on-line account and taking a username which is the same or similar to the victim’s name.

Outing is the sharing of personal or confidential information with others without the consent of the person who the information is about. E.g., the victim may disclose private information to, or share photographs or videos with, the perpetrator, who then passes this on to other people, causing embarrassment and distress to the victim because of the sensitivity of the

A victim may be tricked into sharing personal, confidential, or sensitive information, e.g. when the perpetrator is impersonating someone whom the victim trusts. A victim may also be tricked when their own naivety or lack of judgement lets them down, for example by sharing such information with a complete stranger with whom it is impossible to make any
judgements as to their motives or trustworthiness.

Sexting is the sending of lewd or sexually explicit messages, risqué or sexually explicit photographs or videos, by mobile phone text message, email, or similar electronic communication software. In the context of harassment, the messages received would be unwanted and unwelcome.

Students should exercise extreme caution if indulging in sexting. Texts and images once sent cannot be controlled and can be easily distributed by the recipient. As with outing and trickery, a student’s own naivety and lack of judgement can serve to compound the act of harassment.

Revenge Porn
Revenge porn refers to the sharing of private, sexual materials, either photos or videos, of another person, without their consent and with the purpose of causing them distress or embarrassment. It includes the uploading of images on the internet, sharing by text and email, or showing someone a physical or electronic image.

Trolling is the term in current usage to describe the process by which a person ( known as a ‘troll’) posts repeated negative, hurtful, inflammatory or irrelevant statements on forums, comment pages, or social networking sites, usually in an attempt to incite an online-argument (flaming), emotional outrage from other users, or to target and upset an individual. An
example is the repeated attempt to steer an online conversation towards an inflammatory topic of that person’s (the troll’s) choice, or where the person (the troll) makes comments specifically intended to be offensive on a memorial or other site.

6. Hate crime

Hate crime is defined as “Any hate incident, which constitutes a criminal offence, perceived by the victim or any other person, as being motivated by prejudice or hate.”

People can be victims of prejudice and hate which impact on their daily lives. Many of these incidents go unreported. Due to the damaging effect on their lives, it is important that all such incidents are reported.

A hate incident is “any incident which may or may not constitute a criminal offence, which is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hate”. A hate crime is any such incident which constitutes a criminal offence. (Taken from Gloucestershire Police).

Such incidents are targeted at individuals or groups on the basis of their perceived or real ‘difference’ and vulnerability, because of their: disability, gender-identity, race, religion or sexual orientation.

They can happen anywhere: in the street, in the vicinity of the victim’s home, on public transport, social venues, fast-food outlets or religious buildings.

For more information, or if you wish to report such an incident, you can click on the link below.

7. Associated discrimination

Associated discrimination is where an individual is directly discriminated against or harassed for association with another individual who has a protected characteristic (excludes marriage or civil partnership) e.g. a student whose child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is
refused access to their graduation ceremony because of fears about the child’s behaviour.

8. Perceptive discrimination

Perceptive discrimination is where an individual is directly discriminated against or harassed based on a perception that he/she has a particular protected characteristic when he/she does not have that protected characteristic (excluding marriage/civil partnership) e.g. an adviser
refuses to work with a student because they believe that the student is gay irrespective of whether the student is gay or not.

Appendix 2

Student Bullying, Harassment and Victimisation Monitoring Form

Please complete the form for each new allegation of bullying, harassment or victimisation reported within the University and forward the completed form to the office of the Student Registrar.

To be completed by the member of staff with whom the incident/incidences were discussed. It is advisable that this form is shared with the student in order to record the facts but that it does not form primary focus of the meeting.

Please click on this link below to open and download this form:

Document format

This document is an accessible PDF in line with our accessibility policy. If you have problems accessing the information in this document, please contact us.

Appendix 3

Contacts and Sources of Further Information

Student Services Helpzones
Telephone: 01242 714444
ex 1 (FCH)
ex 3 (PARK)

Residential Support Advisers

Residential Support Adviser details can be found within your Halls Handbook or Halls noticeboard.

Alternatively, contact Accommodation:
Telephone: 01242 714544

Students’ Union Elected Welfare Officer

Elected welfare officer can be found via

SU Reception telephone: 01242 714360
SU generic email:

GALOP – LGBT Domestic Abuse Advice

0800 999 5428

Gloucestershire Adult Safeguarding Helpdesk

01452 426868

Gloucestershire Domestic Abuse Support Service

0845 602 9035

Gloucestershire Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre

01452 526770

Revenge Porn


Main telephone number: 116 123


Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC)

Hope House Gloucester

01452 754390 / 0800 0901234 (out of hours)

Survivors UK

Male rape and sexual abuse

0203 5983 898

Victim Support

0808 1689 111

What’s On Your Mind

Flowchart of student bullying, harassment and victimisation policy

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