findings were stark, with a third of 16-18-year-old girls reporting instances
of unwanted sexual touching at school and 60% in the wider age bracket of 13-21
having faced some form of sexual harassment at school or college in the past
schools are a pivotal setting for both boys and girls when it comes to learning
about issues such as relationships and sex, our universities must also lead the
way when it comes to continuing to provide a safe and positive environment for
have heard – as part of the work of the Universities
UK Taskforce on violence against women, harassment and hate crime – that, like schools, universities are not immune from issues
surrounding sexual violence and harassment. But with so many young people now
attending university, we believe that the sector can make a real difference in
bringing about wider changes in attitudes and behaviour across society.
taskforce has heard from a range of universities and students’ unions who are
already working hard to develop innovative and effective activities to do just
that. The taskforce’s final report, to be published next month, is an
opportunity to showcase and share this best practice.
will also highlight the gaps that need filling, with a series of
recommendations for universities. It is clear that leadership from the top is
key. That is why I have personally chaired this taskforce and I have been joined
by a number of vice-chancellors and leaders of support services who are talking
about this issue loudly – on their campus and in their wider community.
Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia and member of the
taskforce, has talked about the work of his university extending beyond the campus, to local
bars and clubs to cover all aspects of student life. We have also heard from
student unions, the NHS, police, charities and support groups.
of partnership working will be a key theme in our report. And that includes
working with schools. Getting the cultures and behaviours right, before students
get to university, is crucial. As the select committee report highlights, “If
we are to tackle ‘lad culture’ successfully at university, its work should
start much earlier, in schools.”
get to university, we must not only continue efforts to prevent instances, but
also have robust and effective measures in place when they do arise. This
includes trained staff and appropriate reporting mechanisms.
We believe that
our taskforce’s report will build on, and complement the Women and Equalities
Select Committee report, and will be an important building block in ensuring
that all students enjoy a safe university experience.
– The Universities UK Taskforce on violence against women, harassment and hate crime is due to publish its final report next month