Report: Sexual misconduct rampant in UK universities

At least 40 percent of UK university students have been victims of sexual misconduct by university staff. The inappropriate sexual behavior ranges from unwanted comments and advances to sexual assault and rape, according to a new report from the National Union of Students (NUS).

The document, and further reports of misconduct in universities and colleges, marks an extension of the sexual misconduct scandal that has rocked industries from Hollywood to academia. (Read WikiTribune’s coverage of sexual harassment and the post-Harvey Weinstein reckoning.)

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Conducted in partnership with lobby organization The 1752 Group, the report surveyed 1,839 current and former students and analyzed data from focus groups, finding sexualized behaviors are widespread in the lecture hall.

The report defines “sexualized predatory behavior” toward students as sexual misconduct that includes both serious instances of harassment, as well as “seemingly lower level, boundary-blurring behaviors.”

Report’s main findings

  • Of 1,839 respondents, 752 (41 percent) who were current students reported experiencing at least one instance of sexualized behavior, such as inappropriate comments or unwanted touching from a member of staff.
  • A further 94 (5 percent) said someone they know has experienced inappropriate sexual behavior.
  • There were 35 reported cases of non-consensual sexual contact and nine cases of sexual assault or rape by a staff member.
  • Female respondents were more likely to report instances of misconduct.
  • Eighty percent of respondents said they were uncomfortable with staff having sexual or romantic relationships with students. Some students described such relationships as “predatory.”
  • The majority of reported perpetrators were academic staff.

Global picture

  • According to a survey report by The Student Room, released in March 2018 in partnership with the campaign group Revolt Sexual Assault in the United States, 57 percent of female respondents (current students and recent graduates) said they’d experienced sexual harassment; 48 percent said they’d experienced sexual assault – unwanted physical sexual contact.
  • In Australia, the advocacy group End Rape on Campus Australia’s Red Zone Report, published in February 2018, found one in 10 female students was raped or experienced sexual violence on Australian campuses. It found on average 30 assaults took place daily.

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Read the full NUS report Power in the Academy: staff sexual misconduct in UK higher education.

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