Why Most Incident Reporting Systems Fail In Universities ?

There are a number of barriers to successful incident reporting at universities. Many workplaces have quite clear health and safety policies, and communication channels may be more apparent. But, with large student and staff bodies in various faculties, it is all too possible for reports to pile up and not be dealt with timely. 

It is also possible for incident reporting systems to be unclear with too many communication channels. Overall, it’s not hard to see how this process can be complicated and thus fail.

6 Challenges of University Incident Reporting Systems

1. Incidents reports are not answered efficiently


Universities have a large number of students and staff. In the UK from 2012 to 2019, there were over 2 million students enrolled in its 143 universities. A large amount of incident reporting cases should therefore come as no surprise.

It also offers an explanation as to why many reports take extended periods of time to be dealt with. It can seem like a bottomless pit of reports to sort through. 

Universities also have many different departments with many different people in charge. This means that there may be some overlap and even some confusion regarding a student incident or faculty incident.

2. Too many reporting systems and lack of clear responsibilities


Universities often have many reporting channels. Issues may overlap into many different departments and this may contribute to the confusion around who handles the reports. 

Human Resource departments are separate from Security and IT, so it may be tedious to go through the university reporting process. This can discourage especially students from reporting incidents.

3. No mobile access


Staff and students often don’t have mobile access to report incidents and this can greatly increase the threshold of doing so. For example injuries, which will disable mobility for a time being, can impact the campus accessibility for students. Another area that can take a big hit on little to no reports is building maintenance. If a student or a faculty member spots potential areas of improvement, it would be beneficial to get these taken care of as swiftly as possible.

A mobile reporting solution would not only be helpful, but a tool for anyone in daily contact with the school and its campus to have. It can help to improve health and safety, and create a reporting culture.

4. Not knowing what to report

Systems can also fail simply because it’s not clear how they work. If students are not sure of what to report and whether reporting incidents is even helpful, they simply will not do it. That is why universities need to have clear guidelines in place. They also need to educate students on why reporting observations is important.

5. No anonymous reporting

Students may also be afraid of reporting more sensitive incidents because the incident reporting system lacks anonymity. Students may not feel safe in reporting these incidents and so they simply do not. This leaves universities unaware of these problems and unable to act on preventing them.

6. Gatekeepers withholding information

Information withheld from students may also discourage them from reporting. If they do not receive feedback on reports or on any progress made, this could create the perception that it is not worth reporting them in the first place.


Final Thoughts


As seen in many workplaces in different fields, if the people reporting feel protected from blame and that their reports will make a difference, they will be more likely to report. Universities are no different. 

If students and staff feel that the university actually hears their reports and uses them to make changes, they will be more likely to report student incidents and faculty incidents.

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Safety Management Incident Reporting Incident Management University

Camilla Petersen

Country Manager, Denmark