The University of Surrey is committed not just to its provision of education services to its students, but also to their support. The University seeks to protect children and adults at risk and to keep them safe from harm when in contact with University students and staff.

If you have a safeguarding query or concern please contact the Principle Safeguarding Lead on If you are unsure whether your concern is a welfare concern or a safeguarding concern, you can contact the duty worker at the Centre for Wellbeing for further guidance.

Safeguarding procedures

Safeguarding at Surrey

We are committed to:

  • Supporting and promoting the welfare of our community – students, staff and visitors
  • Creating a safe environment that’s conducive for the work, study and enjoyment of all members of our community.

Universities have duties under the law towards people who are experiencing abuse or neglect (or are at risk of either). This includes safeguarding children, vulnerable adults and our community, who may be at risk of harm or exploitation (including radicalisation or being drawn into terrorism, as defined in the University’s Prevent Policy)

The University has a duty to report suspected safeguarding concerns relating to a child or vulnerable adult to relevant external agencies, regardless of whether the individual is a member of the University community, if that concern is reported to, or identified by, a member of staff in the course of their duties.

To ensure it fulfils its duties, the University has Safeguarding Procedures which are monitored through appropriate governance, including the University Prevent and Safeguarding Steering Group.

Safeguarding children

Safeguarding children is about taking action to prevent and protect children and young people under the age of 18 from abuse, neglect and harm, as defined under Working Together to Safeguard Children and Care Act 2014.

We have students under the age of 18 at University of Surrey and have contact with prospective students under the age of 18 and therefore it is important that decisions and actions we take as a University keep this in mind. This will include for example online communications with prospective students, visits to campus and children living in student accommodation. All children under the age of 18 are considered at potential risk on account of their age. risk on account of their age.

Safeguarding adults

Safeguarding adults relates to adults at risk, as defined under the Care Act 2014 are individuals who have care and support needs and due to these additional needs, may be unable to protect themselves from abuse, neglect or exploitation.

Safeguarding concerns and welfare concerns

Safeguarding is primary concerned with the harm others may be doing to a student or staff member, such as exploitation, domestic abuse or emotional, physical, financial or sexual abuse.

Historically however, universities have used the term ‘safeguarding’ to describe welfare concerns they have for individuals such as untreated mental health or self-harm and suicide risk concerns, if there are wellbeing or welfare issues related to students, the Centre for Wellbeing can be contacted on +44 (0)1483 689498 or by emailing

Who is responsible for safeguarding?

The University is subject to a general duty of care at common law to deliver its educational and pastoral/wider services to the standard of the ordinarily competent institution, and, in carrying out its services and functions, to act reasonably to protect the health, safety and welfare of its students. It is however recognised that universities are primarily education providers not professional health or support providers, and do not act in loco parentis. The University is also subject to a common law duty of care to both its employees and visitors.

Whilst there is no specific legislation for Higher Education Institutions (unlike schools or colleges), the University is mindful of its duty of care and further legal obligations under statute, including, but not limited to, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, and Equalities Act 2010. 

As a minimum, all staff must pass on and discuss their concerns swiftly with a relevant party so that the issue can be explored with someone who has a specialist understanding of safeguarding. In the first instance, staff should discuss concerns with their line manager who can then escalate as appropriate.

Overall responsibility for responding to University concerns about a staff or student lies with the Chief Student Officer or his/her nominee. 

Who can I speak to about a safeguarding concern?

Safeguarding concerns may be raised by any staff member, student or member of the public, all concerns will be taken seriously and raised in the first instance with a line manager or personal tutor and then to the Principle Safeguarding Lead Laura Smythson, by completing this online form, more information is available on SurreyNet.

For further information and advice please contact one of the following:

It is important not to delay reporting a safeguarding concern as delays can result in serious harm to the person at risk. Safeguarding concerns should be escalated on the same day that the worry arises.

Prevent Duty

The Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 introduced a new statutory duty for higher education institutions to have "due regard to the need to prevent individuals from being drawn into terrorism". This means that institutions now have a statutory duty to engage with the Government's Prevent Agenda. The Government has published guidance setting out what steps higher education institutions are expected to take to meet this duty. 

Radicalisation of a child or an adult at risk under Care Act 2014 is a form of abuse.

Further information on the University of Surrey’s approach to its implementation of the Prevent Duty in respect of safeguarding individuals who may be vulnerable to radicalisation is available in our Prevent Policy (PDF)

ACT Early provides guidance for loved ones who are concerned about a friend or family member who may be vulnerable to radicalisation. The website offers advice around online safety and signs of radicalisation.