A taskforce set up to look at violence, harassment and hate crime held its first meeting today.
The taskforce, established by Universities UK, will look at all forms of violence and harassment affecting students, but with particular focus on violence and sexual harassment against women.
Its aim will be to bring together students, university experts and external organisations to consider the current evidence and what universities are currently doing to address these issues and what more needs to be done.
The taskforce will develop principles, guidance and recommendations and will report its findings for the start of the 2016/17 academic year (September 2016).
Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK and chair of the taskforce, said: “There is no place for violence and harassment on a university campus, nor anywhere else.
“One of the taskforce's first actions, in consultation with students and university experts, will be to look at the nature and scale of violence and harassment affecting students.
“Universities across the UK already have a range of initiatives and policies in place to address these issues, including workshops for new students. The aim will be to see how we can do more to support universities in this area and share best practice. This is a challenging and complex area and there will be no simple answers. The law has moved on since the sector last looked at this area, so it will also provide an opportunity to consider all legislation.
“These issues are not confined to university campuses which is why the task force will also look at the communities in which students live, and draw on the experiences and expertise of other sectors.”
Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said: “Harassment has no place in our universities, and I want all students and staff members to feel safe on campuses, which is why I asked Universities UK to convene this important taskforce. The group will build on existing efforts to bring about cultural change and provide new guidance for the sector. I was pleased to take part in the first meeting of the taskforce today and look forward to receiving its report and supporting further progress in this important area.”