Office for Students launches consultation on Harassment & Sexual Misconduct in Higher Education

Proposed 'statement of expectations' covers the processes, policies and systems providers expected to have in place.

University quadrant
Yesterday (15.01.20) the Office for Students (the independent regulator for higher education in England) launched their consultation on harassment and sexual misconduct in higher education. The failings of numerous academic institutions have left survivors of sexual violence felling unrecognised, unsupported and further traumatised, as shown in yesterday’s BBC report.
Andrea Simon, Public Affairs Manager at the End Violence Against Women Coalition says:
It is clear that not enough is being done by Universities to respond to, or prevent, sexual violence and harassment, despite the huge increase in reports. 
The current Universities UK guidance lacks meaningful mechanisms for enforcement and monitoring. Our universities should be providing much higher standards of protection of care, that is consistent across the range of higher education institutions.  With the apparent lack of willingness to create safe environments for students, statutory guidance may be needed to achieve this.
The stated purpose of the Office for Students consultation is to propose a set of expectations of providers, and to require clear, accessible and effective complaints procedures. The intention is that students will:
• be aware of the processes for reporting incidents of harassment and sexual misconduct
• feel confident in reporting incidents and be supported to do so
• know that their complaints will be addressed effectively.
EVAW will be responding to this consultation (deadline 27 March) and sharing our response.
Our member AVA is currently working on developing resources for universities to help them develop systemic, comprehensive response to sexual misconduct happening on campus:  https://avaproject.org.uk/combatmisconductuk/

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