Why is the Modern Slavery Prevention Hub important?

Modern slavery is of significant scale and complexity – it is estimated in the UK that there are up to 136,000 people trapped in modern slavery (CSJ). In the West Midlands, there are at least 4,200 victim-survivors of modern slavery (WM Police). 

Modern slavery is a major risk for universities across the UK to address.


With growing concerns regarding the cost of living crisis across the UK, students may be increasingly vulnerable to modern slavery if they are struggling financially. Evidence shows that students are at particular risk of forced sexual exploitation and county lines during their time at university. 

International students have been identified as one of the most at risk groups, with reports of several cases where overseas students have vanished from courses and then been found working in exploitative conditions.

Throughout their future careers, university students should be equipped with essential information about modern slavery in order to empower them to help potential survivors. Frontline and healthcare workers are often the only professionals to come into contact with the victims of modern slavery. As such, it is important that all future healthcare workers and first responders are able to identify and respond to signs of modern slavery.   


University staff may also be vulnerable to modern slavery, particularly those conducting ‘unskilled labour’ on-site. According to Nottingham Rights Lab, high-risk categories for on-site staffing include construction, catering, cleaning, security, and maintenance. Furthermore, where the right to work in the UK may not be accurately confirmed by HR procedures, the living wage is not paid, temporary contracts are used, and/or work is outsourced to a third party, there are risks of modern slavery taking place. 

University Policy & Practice

Currently, many universities are successfully embedding their Modern Slavery Act response to supply chain risk within existing procurement policy and practice. However, research has found that most universities could be doing more to address modern slavery risks and become fully compliant with the MSA requirements.