Sexual harassment widespread in UK universities

London, March 6 (IANS) Sexual harassment, misconduct and gender violence by university staff across the UK are at epidemic levels, a media report said.

A Guardian report said Freedom of Information (FoI) requests sent to 120 universities found that students made at least 169 such allegations against academic and non-academic staff from 2011-12 to 2016-17.

Another 127 allegations about staff were made by colleagues.

But scores of alleged victims told the daily they were dissuaded from making official complaints and either withdrew their allegations or settled for an informal resolution.

Many others said they never reported their harassment, fearful of the impact on their education or careers. This suggests that the true scale of the problem is far greater than what the figures revealed.

According to the report, Oxford University reported the highest number of allegations against staff by students, with 11 received by its central administration and 10 by colleges.

It was followed by Nottingham with 10, Edinburgh (9), University of the Arts London (UAL) and Essex (7 each) and Cambridge (6).

Only five universities said they had compensated students.

Goldsmiths, University of London, which has been criticised for using non-disclosure agreements in settlements, paid out the most – 192,146 pounds ($235,993) – followed by UAL, which gave 64,000 pounds to two students, plus an undisclosed sum to a staff member over an allegation of sexual harassment by a colleague.

A junior female member of staff at a university in southern England told the Guardian she tried to raise concerns about sexual harassment in her department for five years but no manager she contacted had taken action.

A graduate student who was sexually assaulted by a senior academic told the daily that her university in southern England pressured her to drop her complaint.

–IANS

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