Students: Sexual Offences

Department for Education written question – answered on 24th October 2019.

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Photo of Lord Taylor of Warwick Lord Taylor of Warwick Non-affiliated

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans, if any, they have to increase the amount of support offered to university students who have been victims of sexual assault.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

The government takes any form of violence and sexual harassment, including in Higher Education (HE), extremely seriously.

As independent and autonomous institutions, universities are responsible for providing a safe and inclusive environment for all students. The legal obligation for ensuring that students do not face discrimination, harassment or victimisation rests with the HE providers. They should discharge their responsibilities fully and have robust policies and procedures in place to comply with the law, and to investigate and swiftly address sexual misconduct.

The Office for Students and its predecessor provided £2.45m funding for 63 projects tackling sexual misconduct in 2017 and 2018.

A recent survey of universities by Universities UK shows that progress is being made to address sexual misconduct in HE. However, the government acknowledges that there is much further to go to combat the culture of harassment. We urge all university leaders to take ownership and prioritise a zero tolerance culture to all harassment and hate crime.

The government will continue to prioritise tackling of all forms of harassment and hate crime in HE.

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