[Translate to English:]

New report provides guidance to deal with social unsafety

Today, the report “The Educational Institution as a Safe Space” was launched with the aim of improving social safety at educational institutions. This document is supported by TU/e and is the result of a collaboration between the Expert Center on Inclusive Education (ECIO), the Dutch National Students Association (ISO) and the Time Out Foundation.

photo Ralph van Ierland

The report was presented in Utrecht to Mariëtte Hamer, Government Commissioner for Combating Sexual Transgressive Behavior and Sexual Violence, and the mayor of Utrecht, Sharon Dijksma. The document offers practical guidelines and tools to promote a safe learning environment and address social unsafety at educational institutions on a broad scale. It is intended for lecturers and other professionals committed to this theme.

The report provides a summary of existing initiatives at educational institutions surrounding the topic of social safety, based on conversations with experienced professionals. Additionally, input was gathered from ISO meetings with their own members. This was combined with the outcomes of the theater performance Safe Space by Time Out, which was recently attended by TU/e students who were given the opportunity to share their input on this theme.

Some time before that, employees of the same department were shown a different performance, which is also referred to in the report as an effective means of initiating conversations surrounding social safety and well-being.


The report also mentions TU/e’s Wellbeing Signal Group at Mechanical Engineering (ME) as an initiative to promote a safe learning environment. The group consists of representatives from different layers within the department, allowing for “cross-group signals to be received and exchanged”.

Another tip is to make social safety a mandatory part of the curriculum, which is currently only the case in Eindhoven at Mechanical Engineering and in Maastricht.

In addition, the importance of a transparent, independent and accessible reporting system is highlighted. This means that complaints at the institution are dealt with at the institution level, and therefore not per department, by persons who have no ties to the institution itself,” reads the report. To this end, it is important to formulate a code of conduct based on values that apply within the institution.

At TU/e, this is already being realized through the Values Project and the yet-to-be-established Integrity Office, which will serve as a broad contact point for questions and reports regarding social safety. This contact point will be staffed by the university’s confidential counsellors.

Offering perspective

“We hope that with this report, we can provide guidance to people involved in social safety. That they can turn to this report for inspiration and practical tips,” says Joyce van der Wegen of ECIO. She contributed to the report and handed over the document to the Government Commissioner today.

“We saw that social safety is an important topic, but at the same time people were unsure about how to approach it. Because of that, we decided to offer them perspective by summarizing what initiatives are already in place and what else can be done.”

For the presentation of the report, the setting of the theater show had been used, including the red lines symbolizing the safe environment. Scenes from that performance were played. In between, three panel discussions took place. Ralph van Ierland, Social Safety Officer at Mechanical Engineering participated in one of those. "We talked about implementing existing (student) initiatives into policy. One of the requests to the institutions was also to have the courage to give these student initiatives a place. I think the manual provides a great opportunity for institutions to take further steps around social safety. It remains very valuable to share experiences between institutions, and to learn from what works for everyone, and what works less."


According to recent figures, most students experience a safe learning environment, but at the same time they also see bullying and discrimination. It is estimated that over 30,000 students in higher education (4 percent) have experienced some form of transgressive behavior.

A quarter of students who experience such behavior do not take action. They have little faith in the complaints procedure at their institution, feel it is pointless or there is too high a threshold to file a complaint. Of these students, one in five does not even know where to turn to with their complaint.

Share this article