Excellence in Campus Safety Breeds Credibility for Colleges and Universities

As we approach the new college year, the safety and well-being of students on university campuses will be of paramount concern for both academic institutions and parents alike. As a leading fire and security business for campuses that are complex due to their footprint, unique building structures and nuanced designs, we have put together our thoughts on getting ready for the new academic year.

On-campus safety promotes credibility

Your institution is inextricably linked to its reputation, be that for providing educational excellence, a thriving community and culture, or a nurturing environment for self-growth. The importance of creating a safe and secure environment for your students could not weigh heavier on the reputation and credibility of your institution.

Are you compliant and have you given it the concern it requires?

Studies have shown that personal safety is a crucial concern for students. For many, it’s the first time away from home, so the confidence in security and safety will play a significant factor in choosing which university or college to attend, for both the student and the parent or guardian.

Safety concerns may be greater for international students. Almost 10% of all students studying at Ireland’s college and university sites in 2022 were non-EU citizens, with over 27,000 travelling here to study. Those unfamiliar with local culture, the law, and general personal safety measures may place a higher emphasis on choosing a university or college with a greater focus on updated security and safety measures.

High-traffic areas

At the end of the 2022 academic year, Ireland’s university and college campuses were home to over 245,000 students (HEA.ie), add to that the staff, employees and other visitors to the campus sites on a daily basis and there are a huge number of safety concerns.

The more people on campus, the bigger the risk, whether that’s an increased chance of on-campus criminal activity or a decreased chance of safe protocol being observed.

Student numbers are recovering to pre-pandemic levels, but with several years of decreased footfall, an up-to-date audit of security assets and fire procedures would be advisable and could be overdue.

Not only is there a duty of care for these visitors and students, but there is a reputational concern to be considered should a college or university fall short in this community care.

Keeping up-to-date

There are many university and college campus sites that have out-of-date technology or have not undertaken an audit in the past year. By partnering with reputable fire and security firms, education facilities have access to advanced technologies and expertise in security systems, which help to prevent and respond to potential threats effectively and promptly.

One of the most prudent strategies is to undertake a hybrid solution combining CCTV and automated access controls with on-site security staff removing anyone who shouldn’t be there. This enables 24/7 monitoring and reporting which, given the nature of campus activity, can provide important information for planning and maintaining the college grounds.

Managing security manually, with security guards only, can be costly and less effective for large campus sites due to the complexity of the site combined with the curriculum timetable. Choosing an electronic security system or hybrid model can provide a reliable, efficient, and more comprehensive solution, giving 24/7 security coverage for large areas. See our case study here.

Today, technology plays a pivotal role in mitigating potential threats and enables a proactive response to incidents, but it is important that technology is up-to-date and in line with GDPR regulations, see here for further details on this. The use of strategically placed CCTV cameras, provides real-time monitoring of campus areas, including entrances, walkways, common areas, and car parks and these surveillance systems reduce criminal activity through to the high-resolution imagery which can identify criminals and the responsive approach to trigging the Gardaí in the event of an incident.

Of course, up-to-date fire systems are also imperative to ensure the safety of students and personnel too. A complete system consists of hardware, software, and fire safety procedures. Whether this is the smoke detectors themselves, fire alarms, fire suppression systems or emergency evacuation plans. Many customers that come to Sharp Group for the first time have not had their systems maintained or tested for longer than the regulatory requirements.

Need help?

As a leading provider of campus security solutions and fire safety systems that are suitable for university and college campuses, we work collaboratively with our clients to enhance their security infrastructure, maintain a safe campus environment, and protect the campus community from potential threats and emergencies.