Kingston responds to student-lecturer book controversy

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Kingston University has responded after the publication of a book which revealed the extent of sexual relationships between students and lecturers.

‘Unsafe Spaces: Ending Sexual Abuse in Universities’, which was published on September 14, revealed that only six universities in the UK have openly banned relationships between students and lecturers, and suggested that others should do the same.

In a statement, Kingston University said: “The university is committed to ensuring all its students and staff are able to learn and work in a safe, supportive environment.”

 “While respecting individuals’ rights to make their own choices in their personal lives, the university has a range of measures in place to ensure all members of its community abide by its values and the high standards of behaviour expected of them.”

The book, which was written by Eva Tutchell and John Edmonds, caused a stir when it found that that only one in 20 of the universities in England and Wales expressly forbids sexual relationships in this form, and only 51 discourage them due to conflict of interest.

Disciplinary codes

The KU statement went on to say “to avoid any potential conflicts of interest, the university has a robust framework in place to ensure fairness and transparency are upheld throughout course delivery and academic assessment. These checks and balances include routine use of external examiners and rigorous scrutiny by exam boards.”

Tutchell and Edmonds wrote the book with the opinion that universities should intervene in these situations to stop the students in these situations from getting hurt, something they confirmed in an interview with Times Higher Education.

Kingston confirmed that any instance of malpractice would be dealt with: “Any employee believed to be in breach of the relevant university regulations would be dealt with under the staff disciplinary code.

 “All university policies are reviewed on a regular basis to ensure it keeps pace with best practice and new approaches across the sector.”

Kingston University’s policies and regulations have a student protection plan in place, to ensure the safety and security of students who attend.

There is also a fitness to practice section which covers how allegations can be made to the university, as well as a general rules and regulations section which states that any allegations of misconduct can be dealt with under the Student Disciplinary Procedure and the Student Disciplinary Guidance, which is on the My Kingston website.

The six universities that have so far banned these relationships are Lancaster, Leeds, Nottingham Trent, the University of Greenwich, the University of Roehampton and UCL. It is currently unknown whether or not more universities will follow suit, although after this sort of scrutiny it may prompt more to respond. 

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