This study reports the variation in safety perceptions of university students (N = 196 university students) on university campuses in South China, focusing on the risk of crime and traffic incidents. Using a public participation geographic information system, we explore potential links between students’ perceptions and campus characteristics. We conclude that environmental cues associated with the risk of crime victimisation (e.g. lack of natural surveillance) are more often linked to poorer safety perceptions than those linked to the risk of traffic conditions. Although half of the students declare feeling safe on campus, their perception varies by individual characteristics, frequency of use, and daily experiences. Inspections of campuses environments using a door-to-door perspective are advised when safety becomes an integral part of sustainability planning of universities worldwide.