Chevening safeguarding policy

Chevening upholds the highest standards of safeguarding. It is committed proactively to safeguard and promote the welfare of beneficiaries, and to protect its staff and all those with whom it comes into contact.

The Chevening Secretariat requires staff, applicants for and recipients of Chevening awards, and suppliers to act consistently with its requirements for safeguarding. Secretariat staff must adhere to the British Council’s safeguarding policy and are given safeguarding training and periodic refresher training.

We believe that everyone who comes into contact with the Chevening programme itself and Chevening Scholars and Fellows (regardless of: age; sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC); religion/or none; race; ethnicity; disability; or any other protected characteristic as listed in the Equality Act 2010), has the right to be protected from all forms of harm, harassment, abuse, neglect and exploitation and an obligation to not harm others.

The Chevening Secretariat, which administers Chevening awards of behalf of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), does not tolerate abuse and/or exploitation and expects that everyone associated with Chevening maintains an appropriate level of awareness of what is required in terms of behaviour and the reporting of concerns.

The policy lays out our commitment to building a strong safeguarding culture with a zero tolerance of abuse and exploitation, along with a commitment to maintain effective methods for reporting and responding to issues that arise. It sets out the responsibilities of all relevant parties in relation to safeguarding.

The policy provides an overall safeguarding framework and outlines clearly the relevant routes for reporting and responding to concerns.



  1. Definition of Safeguarding

In the UK, safeguarding, in general terms, means protecting peoples’ health, wellbeing and human rights, and enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect.

Safeguarding within Chevening aligns with this and is specifically defined as ‘preventing and responding to harm caused by the abuse of power, position and opportunity within Chevening’. This includes sexual exploitation, abuse, harassment or bullying upon both the people Chevening aims to support, and also those who engage with Chevening in any capacity.

It is therefore our means of protecting all people, and particularly the most vulnerable in our society (such as children and vulnerable adults), from harm that may arise from contact with Chevening Secretariat staff, associated personnel, Scholars/Fellows, or during activities and events. We also require that any partners and contractors acting on our behalf apply the same high standards of safeguarding.

Chevening expects that the academic institutions which host scholars/fellows exercise effective safeguarding systems to provide complete protection throughout the journey of those studying and working within their institutions.


  1. Scope of the Policy

This policy applies to:

  • Secretariat Staff – employed by the British Council to act as the Secretariat for Chevening. The British Council is responsible for managing its staff responsibilities and concerns on safeguarding.
  • Service Providers/Partners whilst engaged with work related to Chevening.
  • Chevening Scholars and Fellows – who have been awarded a Chevening Scholarship or Fellowship registered at a UK organisation.
  • Alumni – where engaged in work for Chevening.

FCDO safeguarding policies apply to FCDO staff at British Embassies or High Commissions or who work centrally in London, but concerned parties may raise concerns about FCDO staff engaged with work related to Chevening via the Head of Programme Management (Safeguarding Champion) (, see section 5, or the independent Safeguarding Investigations Team in FCDO via

This policy applies at all times, within and outside work hours and in all settings.


  1. Risk

Chevening is alert to the safeguarding risks involved in all aspects of its operations, and the danger of those in positions of trust and authority abusing those positions. Recruitment processes and subsequent training for staff is proportionate to the level of safeguarding risk in each role.


  1. Service Providers and Partners

The Chevening Secretariat is provided by the British Council. Some overseas services both pre-award and for Alumni are provided by British Embassies and High Commissions. It also works with select delivery partners, such as travel agents and system providers. Chevening’s selection of partners recognises the need for high standards of governance, including safeguarding.


  1. Reporting

  • What to report

Anyone who has a complaint or concern relating to a safeguarding issue should report it immediately.

This includes any of the following examples (though is not an exhaustive list):

  • Child abuse
  • Sexual abuse or harassment
  • Racial abuse or harassment
  • Exploitation, including Sexual exploitation
  • Bullying
  • Cyberbullying


5.2 How to report a safeguarding concern

Any concerns should be reported via the relevant safeguarding reporting mechanism, as set out in the table below. The Head of Programme Management is the Chevening Safeguarding Champion.

Who is reporting Who to contact for specific scenarios


Applicants For any safeguarding issue that arises in connection with the British Embassy or High Commission, the first point of contact should be the FCDO’s dedicated Safeguarding Investigations Team who can be contacted at


For a safeguarding issue that arises in connection with a university admission process (for example during provision of references and supporting statements) the first point of contact should be the relevant university channels.


If the complainant does not feel the matter has been dealt with in line with that organisation’s policy and procedure, or feels it would not be appropriate to address the issue with the organisation directly, then they should contact Chevening to raise their concern by notifying Head of Programme Management (

Scholars/Fellows For safeguarding issues that concern contact with other Scholars/Fellows, or a member of Secretariat staff, the first point of contact should be Head of Programme Management (


For safeguarding issues that relate to behaviour by the FCDO staff the first point of contact should be the FCDO Safeguarding Investigations Team (


The British Council Safeguarding Officer may be approached for advice by Secretariat staff and will be informed about all safeguarding issues.


Where a safeguarding issue arises within or in connection with the university at which the Scholar/Fellow is studying then the issue should be reported through the relevant university channels.

For Host Institutions Reports of breaches by Scholars/Fellows of their institution’s safeguarding policy, and how the case is being handled, should be shared with the Head of Programme Management (
For Others (including Alumni) The relevant reporting route is to the Head of Programme Management (


The Chevening Secretariat will also accept complaints from external sources such as members of the public, partners and official bodies to the Head of Programme Management (


5.3 Responding

Confidentiality will be maintained at all stages of the process when dealing with safeguarding concerns. Information relating to the concern and subsequent case management will be shared on a need-to-know basis only and will be kept secure at all times.

Interim measures may be put in place during the process of investigation and responding to a reported safeguarding concern or incident. Measures or penalties may be made permanent after an appeal window has passed.

If appropriate, Chevening will engage professional assistance to deal with any reported incident. It is unlikely that members of the Chevening Secretariat would have the independence and expertise for an adequate response. Chevening would share the recommendations, upholding anonymity, of any investigation with relevant funders, service providers and partners as necessary. In cases involving staff employed by the British Council, action may be taken using relevant organisation procedures, in consultation with their Human Resources department.

Chevening is committed to ensuring there are no reprisals or retaliation for whistleblowers and others reporting in good faith.

  1. Responsibilities of the Chevening Secretariat

Chevening commits to building an effective safeguarding culture by addressing the issue across its work.

It will:

  • Ensure all Secretariat Staff, delivery partners and service providers and Scholars/Fellows have access to, are familiar with, and know their responsibilities in relation to this Safeguarding Policy.
  • Design, risk assess and undertake all our activities and events in a way that protects people from any risk of harm that may arise from their coming into contact with Chevening.
  • Implement stringent safeguarding approaches in our recruitment procedures.
  • Appoint a designated senior safeguarding Champion within the Secretariat with a lead safeguarding role in order to exercise appropriate risk assessment and accountability in this area.
  • Ensure Secretariat Staff receive safeguarding training at a level commensurate with their role in the organisation.
  • Ensure that safe, appropriate, and accessible means of reporting safeguarding concerns are made available.
  • Follow up on reports of safeguarding concerns promptly and respond according to due process, policy and procedure, and legal and statutory obligations.
  • Ensure that Scholars/Fellows are provided with, understand and agree to abide by, the requirements and standards of the Safeguarding Policy and Chevening Code of Conduct.

In carrying out these responsibilities the following should also be noted:

  • Chevening is not responsible for the safeguarding arrangements in universities and other institutions which host Scholars/Fellows and that responsibility lies with the hosts. This includes the host’s responsibility to conduct risk assessments and training in professional ethical codes in advance of fieldwork which is to be undertaken by Scholars/Fellows.
  • Chevening is responsible for ensuring that Scholars/Fellows are made aware that the universities/institutions have their own safeguarding responsibilities, reporting systems and support. It is the Scholar/Fellow’s responsibility to familiarise themselves with the appropriate procedures at their host university or institution.
  • Chevening will apply appropriate disciplinary measures to any Scholar/Fellow found in breach of policy. In instances of reported misconduct by a Scholar or Fellow the Chevening Disciplinary Policy will be followed.
  • Chevening will offer support to survivors/victims of harm caused by any of its representatives, while ensuring confidentiality, safety, respect and non-discrimination.


  1. Safeguarding responsibilities of Secretariat staff, Associated Personnel, Scholars and Fellows

Everyone associated with the Chevening programme is responsible for ensuring the highest standards of behaviour towards others. Chevening Secretariat staff, associated personnel, and Scholars/Fellows must not cause harm through the abuse of their power, influence, position and opportunity.

They must not:

  • commit any acts of sexual, physical or psychological abuse or violence, harassment or exploitation of any external stakeholder or our staff.
  • Engage in sexual activity with children (persons under the age of 18). This is prohibited regardless of the age of majority, or age of consent, locally. Mistaken belief in the age of a child is not a defence.
  • Exchange money, employment, goods, or services for sex, including sexual favours or other forms of humiliating, degrading or exploitative behaviour is prohibited. This includes exchange of aid/humanitarian assistance that is due to beneficiaries or resources or benefits that employees have power to give.
  • commit any acts which contribute to exploitative practice (e.g. modern slavery / child labour)
  • Extend assistance and advancement to beneficiaries, Scholars/Fellows in return for sexual activity.
  • Engage in any sexual relationship based on inherently unequal power dynamics. This would include for example, those between Secretariat Staff and Scholars/Fellows.

Additionally, they must:

  • Contribute to creating and maintaining an environment that prevents safeguarding violations and promotes the implementation of the Safeguarding Policy.
  • Make themselves aware of their own responsibilities within this policy.
  • Report any concerns or suspicions regarding safeguarding violations according to the appropriate reporting procedures.


  1. Contacts for Reporting

Head of Programme Management:

FCDO Safeguarding Investigations Team:


  1. Associated Policies

Chevening Award-Holder Code of Conduct

Chevening Disciplinary Policy and Procedure

Chevening Complaints Policy and Procedure


  1. Glossary of Terms

Bullying – Offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour. And/or abuse or misuse of power in ways that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient

Cyberbullying – Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying can occur through SMS, Text, and apps, or online in social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation. Some cyberbullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behaviour.

Harm – Psychological, physical and any other infringement of an individual’s rights.

Psychological harm – Emotional or psychological abuse, including (but not limited to) humiliating and degrading treatment such as bad name calling, racial slur, constant criticism, belittling, persistent shaming, solitary confinement and isolation.

Sexual abuse – the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions. It covers grooming, sexual assault (attempted or actual rape, kissing/touching, forcing someone to perform oral sex/touching, making someone remove their clothes or masturbate).

Sexual exploitation – any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another  and any form of transactional sex (inclusive of engaging the services of sex workers).

Sexual Harassment and Harassment – Sexual harassment is unwanted conduct of a sexual nature or conduct related to someone’s gender (including touching, written or verbal comments) that creates a hostile, offensive, humiliating, intimidating or degrading environment..

Survivor – The person who has been abused or exploited. The term ‘survivor’ is often used in preference to ‘victim’ as it implies strength, resilience and the capacity to survive. However it is the individual’s choice how they wish to identify themselves.

At-risk adult – Sometimes also referred to as vulnerable adult. A person who is or may be in need of care by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness; and who is or may be unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation.

A child – is defined as a person below the age of 18.

Social media – The following outlines the types of content that must not be published or associated with the Chevening Scholarships. Anything that may be seen as abusive, obscene, indecent, or offensive.

This includes:

  • Publishing offensive or derogatory content relating to sex, gender, race, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, religion/beliefs, age, or any other such protected characteristic.
  • Publishing content that is insulting, hateful, defamatory, threatening, discriminatory, or pornographic.
  • Behaving in a bullying, intimidating, or harassing manner towards other users, organisations, or administrators.
  • Content containing, or alludes to, unlawful material.
  • Content encouraging anyone to act in contravention of the terms of their award.
  • Content that constitutes spam or promotes or advertises products that have little relevance to the spirit and purpose of the group.
Date of review September 2023
Date of next review September 2024