The higher education sector is currently focused on the issue of sexual misconduct by or against students, following the October 2016 publication of a UK government-commissioned report on harassment, hate crime and violence against women, authored by a Universities UK taskforce. The guidelines issued by the taskforce encourage universities to revise and change their approach to dealing with reports, disclosures and allegations of sexual misconduct, particularly in cases where the allegation is not referred to the police.
To date, UK universities have undertaken little work in response to this, and a therefore there is a lack of empirical research into students’ expectations from their university regarding their response to reports or disclosures of sexual misconduct. The research outcomes of this project will make a real contribution to the sector, producing guidance on responding to reports of sexual misconduct based on the perspectives of students at five universities in north west England:
Each institution’s students’ union will also be involved and represented on the project steering group.
This project, ‘How do students expect their university to respond to disclosures of sexual misconduct by or against students?’ aims to provide the sector with empirical research findings into students’ expectations from their universities regarding their response to reports and disclosures of sexual misconduct, based on a collaboration between several universities and their students’ unions in north west England.
The project objectives include:
The project methodology involves three phases of research:
The project will be overseen by a steering group comprising each institution’s Head of Student Services (or nominee) and one student representative from each institution. This steering group will meet four times a year to oversee the project’s progress, discuss findings and approve the final report. Appropriate expert insight will be sought when formulating recommendations, utilising the academic expertise present within the participating institutions.
The project outputs will include the following: