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Universities have to do extra to deal with sexual misconduct in opposition to college students, watchdog says

Universities nonetheless have to do extra to deal with harassment and sexual misconduct in opposition to college students, the watchdog in England has mentioned.

The Workplace for College students (OfS) issued suggestions to enhance insurance policies and techniques final yr, saying pressing motion was wanted to deal with sexual abuse on campus.

It advised universities to have a course of for victims to report incidents and to minimise boundaries to reporting, amongst different suggestions.

Many have been partially applied a yr on, however progress has been “inconsistent and gradual”, the watchdog discovered.

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Its chief government, Susan Lapworth, mentioned college students have been “nonetheless not feeling appropriately supported” in increased training.

She mentioned an analysis into how universities have responded to the suggestions prompt a unique strategy to enhancing sexual misconduct insurance policies could also be wanted.

The OfS is ready to launch a session on whether or not to make them a requirement for official college standing, which earlier training ministers have supported.

It requested all universities to evaluation their insurance policies for stopping and tackling sexual misconduct on campus final yr, together with new suggestions which included honest investigations into incidents and efficient pastoral take care of victims.

College students from 100 universities and schools have been surveyed for his or her ideas on how their establishments responded.

The analysis – run by the SUMS Consulting – discovered there had been enhancements to insurance policies and techniques wanted to deal with sexual misconduct on campus, in addition to elevated consideration to tackling the problem, within the yr since.

Nonetheless, it mentioned some universities and schools have been slower than others to make progress, and there was an absence of standardised apply throughout the sector.

It additionally prompt student-to-student sexual misconduct has been prioritised by increased training our bodies, slightly than harassment and abuse involving different events.

Ms Lapworth from the OfS: “Each scholar ought to be capable to take part in all facets of their college expertise with out being topic to harassment or sexual misconduct.”

She added: “The analysis reveals that, whereas progress is being made, self-regulation has not been ample to ship constant, efficient approaches for college students throughout the sector.

“College students are nonetheless not feeling appropriately supported by universities and schools. This factors to the necessity for a unique strategy to forestall and deal with harassment and sexual misconduct, which is why we are going to seek the advice of on a brand new situation of registration subsequent yr.”

A spokesperson for Universities UK, which represents 140 establishments, mentioned: “Our members take tackling harassment and sexual misconduct extraordinarily critically, and have been working onerous to fulfill their obligations on this space.”

They mentioned it was “encouraging” to see the watchdog discover progress had been made, however accepted there was “nonetheless a method to go”.

Robert Halfon, the upper training minister, mentioned: “Sexual harassment and misconduct has no place in our world-class universities and, on behalf of each scholar, I welcome the drive and help from the OfS in tackling this challenge.”

He mentioned 74 universities have signed a pledge to cease the usage of non-disclosure agreements to silence victims of sexual harassment and bullying and the division for training anticipated all remaining ones to place their names to it too.



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