The President of Universities UK (UUK) has said that there is ‘clearly more to be done’ to tackle sexual misconduct at UK institutions, following a new study into hate crime and harassment on campus.

The report comes after a recent survey said almost two thirds of students and recent graduates have experienced sexual violence. Photo: Universities UK.

The Changing the Culture: One Year On report found that success in tackling sexual misconduct is variable across institutions and that the majority of universities are solely focusing on sexual misconduct instead of also considering hate crime and harassment.

In response to the report, Professor Dame Janet Beer, said: “It is encouraging to see from the evidence in the report that a real step change has occurred and that significant progress has been made.

“However, there is clearly more to be done and there needs to be a real focus on tackling staff to-student sexual misconduct, hate crime and hate-based harassment.

“A long-term commitment by senior leaders will also be vital to ensuring progress and sustainability.”

The report also revealed that staff-to-student misconduct incidents are being dealt with by human resources departments rather than student support services.

The study’s publication follows a recent survey which found that almost two-thirds of students and recent graduates (62%) have experienced sexual violence at UK universities. 

It also comes after the University of Lincoln’s Student Wellbeing Centre introduced an initiative last year to allow students to report incidents of sexual misconduct online. 

In a foreword to the report, Professor Beer said: “I believe that our universities have a significant role to play in driving cultural change to help combat the pernicious problem of harassment and violence in our society today.

“The recommendations in this report, based on good practice from the survey, provide suggestions on how we can continue to change the culture and show that harassment, hate crime and gender-based violence will not be tolerated in higher education.”

The full report can be viewed on the UUK website.

Update: The University of Lincoln has since responded to the report by Universities UK.

In a statement, they said: “The University of Lincoln promotes the safe, fair and ethical treatment of all its staff and students and is committed to ensuring a working and learning environment which is free from harassment. We have clear policies in place to safeguard health, safety and welfare.”

“Students or staff who experience unwanted or inappropriate behaviours towards them are actively encouraged to raise concerns with confidential reporting routes and robust processes in place to deal with incidents appropriately, sensitively and in accordance with disciplinary procedures.

“The University also works closely with the Students’ Union to actively promote the importance of personal safety and wellbeing. This includes the No More campaign working with partner organisations across the city to raise awareness of the issues around consent and sexual assault. 

“The University also offers impartial advice and counselling through its Staff Assistance Programme and Student Support Services.”