Thursday, 22 April 2021
Department of Education and Skills
115. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the percentage of the overall funding for his Department that has been ring-fenced for the implementation of the Framework for Consent in Higher Education Institutions: Safe, Respectful, Supportive and Positive – Ending Sexual Violence and Harassment in Irish Higher Education Institutions; and the breakdown of same. [21003/21]
Our higher education institutions have a duty of care to their students and staff, and a responsibility to foster a campus culture that is clear in the condemnation of unwanted and unacceptable behaviours, which act as barriers to their safety and their active participation in college life.
In April 2019 the Framework for Consent in Higher Education Institutions: “Safe, Respectful, Supportive and Positive – Ending Sexual Violence and Harassment in Irish Higher Education Institutions” was launched by my Department.
To assist institutions with implementation of the Framework, funding of over €400,000 has been allocated by my Department to a number of initiatives since its launch. In addition, the Higher Education Authority (HEA) has allocated funding of over €500,000 towards consent workshops, the development of the anonymous report and support tool, and the UCC Bystander intervention programme. Prior to and since the launch of the Framework institutions would have undertaken activities in this area as part of their student services remit from within their overall funding allocations. I do not have data on overall institutional expenditure.
In August 2020 I wrote to all of the Presidents of the publicly funded higher education institutions, as I wanted to strengthen institutional action in this area. I requested the institutions to produce individual action plans on tackling sexual violence and harassment. The action plans have been received by the HEA, and institutions must also report annually on their progress in implementing the Framework.
In April 2021 I launched surveys into staff and student experiences of sexual violence and sexual harassment in our higher education institutions. The surveys, which are being conducted by the HEA, have been sent to all students and staff by their HEIs. A report on these surveys should be available to my Department in a number of months.
I want to see our higher education institutions embed the Framework for Consent into their policies and procedures, so as to ensure their long-lasting impact, which will see Ireland take a leading role in ending sexual violence and harassment. This is a priority for my Department and we will be closely following progress in this area.