At UCC we recognise the value and importance of community outreach and engagement. Our Bystander Intervention programme has been rolled out in third level institutes across Ireland and adapted for delivery in second level schools.

The bigger picture

While we pride ourselves at UCC with delivering students an outstanding academic education, we also recognise our role in supporting and enabling the holistic personal development of every student. We recognise the challenges of the transition in, the journey through, and the transition out of university.

Equally at second level, the Bystander Intervention Programme provides an opportunity for students to address personal areas of development, such as their capacity to adapt to change, understand supports around mental health and develop effective communication skills.

In the context of bystander training, they will also develop their awareness of the dangers of inappropriate inter-personal behaviours. These behaviours are inclusive of, but not exclusive to, sexual harassment, alcohol and substance abuse and bullying. The Bystander Intervention Programme develops their capacity, both individually and as a collective student body, to support each other and effect positive change.

The Bystander Intervention Programme presents schools and higher-level institutions with an opportunity to introduce hugely positive learning conversations among students. These conversations and learnings can contribute to a healthy and positive environment for everyone, both in school and beyond.

If students are well informed and supported by a strong community of educators and peers, they can reject the apparent normalisation of uncomfortable, invasive behaviour, and those efforts can (and will) lead to broader change. This positive change is one of the core aims of the Bystander Intervention Programme.

Second level schools

Transition to second level

A modified version of the Bystander Intervention programme was first delivered at second level to students at the Cork Life Centre - a voluntary organization offering an alternative learning environment to young people who find themselves outside the mainstream education system. The design and delivery of this age appropriate programme was funded by the then Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone. 

Broader second level roll-out

During Bystander Intervention week in January 2019, all second level schools in Cork (city and county) were invited to attend a workshop to explore the possibility of a second level adaption of the UCC Bystander intervention programme. Seven schools participated in a series of Bystander Intervention workshops, which were adapted for a Transition Year audience.

Feedback from second level teachers

It is an amazing programme

Second level teacher

It builds upon the RSE aspect of SPHE, however, it is more relevant to the students today

Second level teacher

We have received nothing but encouragement from the school

Second level teacher

I think it would be difficult for first year & second year students to engage with the topic, [but] if the bystander topic was raised in the context of bullying & harassment, it would be very relevant

Second level teacher

Bring Bystander Intervention to your school

If you would like to discuss the possibility of delivering the Bystander Intervention Programme at your school, please email bystander@ucc.ie for further information.

In third level outside of UCC


In April 2019 the National Framework for Ending Sexual Harassment and Violence in Irish Higher Education Institutes identified UCC's Bystander Intervention programme as being particularly significant in informing its various recommendations and actions.

The Junior Minister for Higher Education at the time, Mary Mitchell-O'Connor, requested the Bystander Intervention programme to be rolled across all Irish Higher Education Institutes (HEIs). UCC supported and delivered on the Minister's request on a pro bono basis. This allowed third level students across the country to access to the programme in an immediate, convenient and manageable way.


Success in tackling issues of sexual harassment and abuse requires a commitment to cross sectoral openness and collaboration. UCC has embraced the UK Intervention Initiative's philanthropic approach by sharing its expertise, associated research, investment and delivery of the Bystander Intervention programme on a pro bono basis.

Thanks to additional funding support from the Minister for Higher Education, training and support for the Bystander Intervention module in Irish HEIs is provided by UCC. We are currently working with 11 institutions across Ireland.

In July 2020, at the behest of the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, Professor Louise Crowley developed an online Bystander Intervention orientation session for every HEI to deliver to all first-year students in their 2020/2021 academic year.

In August 2021, the Bystander Intervention team at UCC developed a new 15 minute “quick guide” to being an effective bystander which will be used as part of their first year orientation for incoming UCC students in September, as well as rolled out across the staff and student body over the course of the academic year.

Given the obligation on all HEIs to deliver training under the National Framework, it is being made available to all HEIs, accessible through the embedded link here - so is immediately available and deliverable to student cohorts at orientation and beyond, over the 2021/22 academic year.

Photo of Professor Louise Crowley giving presentation on Bystander Intervention at UCC Orientation 2019

Professor Louise Crowley presenting Bystander Intervention training to 3,600 incoming students at UCC Orientation 2019