CORDIS - EU research results

Student networks leading the struggle for universities free of sexual violence: mechanisms to support survivors, inspiring institutional changes for violence prevention

Project description

Learning how to end gender-based violence at universities

Sexual violence against and harassment of women students at universities is a major problem. A five-country EU study found that the majority of incidents go unreported due mainly to fear of not being believed. The EU-funded UniswithHeart project will investigate how social movements are tackling sexual violence at universities and empowering victims to speak up. Specifically, it will shed light on which social movement strategies and mechanisms are effective. It will also examine the role of public sociology in promoting European Student Networks of Support (SNS), which are influencing academic policies against sexual violence. The findings will shed light on how SNS can help to influence administrations and legislation in terms of promoting safety and supportive campus environments with the aim of ending gender-based violence.


The problem of sexual violence in universities and institutions is getting international attention. In this watershed moment, European Student Networks of Support (SNS) are progressively acting to prevent and face this problem. This project aims (1) to study in which ways do social movements struggle to eradicate sexual violence to contribute to the creation of networks of support in higher education; inquiring on social actors engaged, resistances faced and overall, how are contexts of zero tolerance in which victims feel empowered to speak up shaped. Power structures and complicities are often limiting student movements from effective organizing in preventing harassment. Drawing from this, the project pretends (2) to uncover effective strategies and mechanisms of SNS and the movement against sexual violence in universities, focusing on how it successfully performs and got to be so widely recognized. The emergence of these social movements count on the support of active bystanders, including scholars who develop research and action for and with the public, committed with improving the existing civil society worldwide. In this line, (3) the role of public sociology in promoting SNS is also explored. Their empowerment is influencing not only academic policies against sexual violence but also political changes, legislations. Thus, impact is expected on three realms: on personal and professional success of direct and second order victims of sexual harassment in academia; on effective university policies; as well as on regulations beyond academic institutions. The gap to be filled (in Europe) focuses on the emerging and articulation of Student Networks of Support illustrating the knowledge of their development and repercussion while successfully influencing administrations, political spheres and legislations, making the EU leader not only in social science research but also in contributing to foster pioneer regulations against gender-based violence.


Net EU contribution
€ 245 732,16
48007 Bilbao

See on map

Noreste País Vasco Bizkaia
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 245 732,16

Partners (1)