Content warning: this article contains mentions of sexual harassment.
The Office for Students (OfS) has called upon universities to improve their procedures for reporting sexual harassment, which they have labelled ‘ineffective’ and ‘inadequate’.
It has been discovered that over half of students at UK universities have encountered unwanted sexual advancements. Students let down by universities have been left with no choice but to share allegations of sexual assault online.
The OfS, the independent regulator of higher education in England, has proposed that universities with a poor record of dealing with sexual misconduct allegations will be fined or de-registered. The universities watchdog has also called for sexual consent workshops for staff and students. The OfS’ chief executive, Nicola Dandridge has commented that:
Our proposed statement of expectations sets out the basis of fair, clear and robust processes that we expect all higher education providers to have in place to respond effectively to harassment and sexual misconduct. Where we see evidence of serious failings, we have the regulatory powers to intervene.
The National Union of Students’ Women’s Officer has issued a reply:
We need urgent responses to tackle sexual harassment and violence in colleges and on campus. Historically, efforts towards tackling issues of sexual violence on university campuses have been shouldered by the most marginalised students.
A spokesperson for Universities UK has responded:
Universities are committed to ensuring students and staff have a safe university experience, free from harassment and hate crime, which allows them to thrive in their learning and work. Universities welcome the opportunity to demonstrate the progress they are making on this important issue.