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Sexual assault of female students still an issue across universities

By Laurynas Puikys Mar 19, 2021

One in five female students report being victims of sexism, assault or inappropriate sexual behaviour with the latest research showing that students feel unsafe in UK universities.

The website Student Beans surveyed over 3,000 university students across the UK in February 2021 and found that sexism, sexual assault and inappropriate behaviour are still widespread issues across academic schools.

“Sexism, misconduct and inappropriate behaviour are gravely impacting student safety, and I’ve seen it affect almost anybody – regardless of what they study, their age, background or gender,” said Amanda Baillie, a Psychology student at Loughborough University.

“All universities have a responsibility to safeguard students, especially younger students. A lot of us are living away from home for the first time, without any guidance from others around what behaviour is acceptable or not.”

A third of UK students report that sexual harassment is a major issue on campus with one in five female students saying they have been victims of sexism, assault or inappropriate whilst on campus. However, when reported, only a third (38%) say that universities acted when complaints were made.

The findings also revealed that a third of UK students report that sexual harassment is a major issue on campus. A quarter (27%) of all female students admit to feeling unsafe at university within the past year, despite lockdown measures being in place.

Jessica Pinkett, Head of Youth Insights at Student Beans, commented: “While students can’t wait to get back onto campus after lockdown, it’s sad to see that safety concerns could hold back female students from fully embracing university life.

“Universities must ensure that campuses are a safe environment for all students, and that they take action not only to prevent sexual assault and harassment, but also support for victims and hold perpetrators accountable.”

Findings show that more than three-quarters (78%) of female students are changing the way they present themselves out of fear of being sexually harassed. This is because they believe it will prevent:

  • Being followed home by a stranger (64%)
  • Catcalling (50%)
  • Sexual harassment on public transport (44%)
  • Having their drink spiked (33%)
  • Sexual harassment at work (19%)
  • Date rape (17%)

By Laurynas Puikys

Journalism student from Kingston University and Editor of The River. Main interests: books, basketball and motorsports.

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