Equally Safe in Colleges and Universities Core Leadership Group minutes: May 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the Equally Safe in Colleges and Universities Core Leadership Group on 24 May 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Mr Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training
  • Fiona Drouet, Emily Test
  • Suzanne Marshall, College Development Network
  • Rachel Adamson, Scottish Funding Council (SFC)
  • Jill Stevenson, University of Stirling/AMOSSHE
  • Niamh Kerr, Rape Crisis Scotland
  • Susannah Lane, Universities Scotland
  • Nicholas George Edwards, University of Aberdeen/University HR Network
  • Debbie Browett, Scottish Government
  • Steven Paxton, Scottish Government
  • Daniel McCarron, Scottish Government


  • Nicole Beattie, NUS Scotland
  • Andy Witty, Colleges Scotland
  • Dr Davena Rankin, UNISON

Items and actions

Introduction and welcome

The Minister welcomed everyone to the meeting and noted apologies as above.

Minutes of previous meeting

The minutes of the meeting of 24 February 2022 were approved.

Consideration of the draft annual operating plan

The Minister informed the Group that consultation on the draft Operating Plan is now concluded and the latest version of the draft Operating Plan was circulated prior to the meeting. He apologised that this was not shared with members as early as anticipated.

The Group agreed to consider the draft Operating Plan by correspondence in advance of the next meeting.

Action: The Group will consider the draft Operating Plan and provide feedback to Scottish Government officials by correspondence.

Scottish Government officials asked members to consider the key priorities from the draft Operating Plan which will be taken forward by Task and Finish Groups. Members agreed to consider this and feedback their priorities in advance of the next meeting.

Action: Members to consider the key priorities from the Plan for Task and Finish Groups to progress.

Update on resource budget

Scottish Government officials confirmed that funding proposals and the proposed Development Officer post will be considered once the outcome of the Resource Spending Review (RSR) is confirmed.

Consultation on Scottish Funding Council (SFC) paper

Members considered a paper (copies previously issued) from the SFC regarding QC led reports in light of the conviction of Kevin O’Gorman in 2019 for a range of offences committed while in employment at the University of Strathclyde. Kevin O’Gorman was also employed at Heriot-Watt University.

Rachel Adamson (SFC), invited members to comment on the paper and the specific requests therein:

  • whether the recommendations of the QC led reports are addressed by the student-staff sexual misconduct guidance developed by Universities UK
  • what more might be expected from institutions in safeguarding their students from similar perpetrators
  • whether the commissioning process outlined in the paper is the appropriate next step and whether members have any recommendations who the SFC might approach

Members agreed to revert to the SFC directly on this matter.

University of Strathclyde report: “Equally Safe on Campus”

Members were issued with the University of Strathclyde’s research report on gender-based violence, “Equally Safe on Campus”.

Steven Paxton (Scottish Government), outlined the key findings from the report and informed members that the Scottish Government is now content with the final version of the report.

He further advised that it will not be published, however, members may wish to refer to the research to inform their work going forward.


The Minister informed members that the Scottish Government received a request from Dr Melanie McCarry (University of Strathclyde), to join the Group in her capacity as an academic.

Members agreed that there was already sufficient representation from the university sector on the Group.

Members also agreed that Dr McCarry’s expertise would be valuable as a member of a Task and Finish Group .

Scottish Government officials provided an update on the Government’s activities with regard to spiking and advised that the Core Leadership Group may want to consider what more it has to add to the debate with particular regard to prevention measures.

Fiona Drouet (Emily Test), advised members that Emily Test’s LISTEN Risk Assessment Tool is now live. Mrs Drouet also informed the Group that applications for the second phase of the Gender-Based Violence Charter will open on 1 June 2022.

Date of next meeting

The Minister thanked everyone for attending the meeting.

The next meeting will be in late July 2022.

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