Tech start up targets universities

Stephen Chapman's picture

A Manchester start-up software development company has launched a new online reporting system to help keep students safe.

Culture Shift developed Report + Support in collaboration with the University of Manchester and it has since launched at University of Essex and Goldsmiths University of London.

It means that students, staff and visitors can seek support or report harassment anonymously.

“We first worked with University of Manchester to develop a website that would allow anonymous reporting, as it had become clear that cultures and practices across Higher Education were falling well short in addressing issues of bullying and harassment,” explained Gemma McCall, who set up the company alongside Stuart Bradley and Carl Sadd. All 3 are directors of branding and digital agency, Trust.

“Previous processes did not give students confidence that reports would be properly dealt with by institutions, meaning some students were unwilling to approach faculty staff face-to-face to report an incident.

“The anonymous function empowers students to report what has happened, and there is of course the option to make themselves known so they can seek support.”

McCall added that the reports would help build a picture of what’s going on at the universities, so that issues can be resolved.

“Among all the other work we’re doing, we decided to review our reporting systems and processes,” said Vicki Baars, strategy and review manager, sexual harassment at Goldsmiths, University of London.

“It was clear that our previous process of a formal complaint, or nothing, wasn’t enough. The anonymous reporting function that Report + Support offers allows us to tackle issues before they get to the formal complaint stage. And, importantly, it allows us to offer students, staff and visitors easy access to appropriate support."