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Behind the HE headlines is one key question – the purpose of universities

The past week’s higher education news demonstrates that there are certain expectations of universities that policymakers, HE leaders and the Augar review are expected to address, says Johnny Rich, Chief Executive of the Engineering Professors’ Council and Chief Executive of outreach organisation Push .

30 VCs sign new Civic University Agreement

Leaders of thirty universities have signed a Civic University Agreement, reaffirming their institution's commitment to their local communities by pledging to put the economy and quality of life in their home towns and cities at the top of their list of priorities.

How to improve the student experience -- ask the students themselves

Jenny Shaw , Student Experience Director at Unite Students, draws lessons on the higher education sector's efforts to improve the student experience from a week of HE news and views.

Two thirds of freshers unaware of university sex harassment policies

Two thirds of freshers are not aware of procedures at their university for reporting sexual harassment, a survey conducted by the National Union of Students has found.

Almost the same proportion (61 per cent) of students who responded to the poll said they were not aware of any codes of conduct on sexual harassment introduced by their institution.

This was despite moves by several universities to take action against "lad's culture" and sexual harassment and violence on campus, following concerns raised by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator over a growing number of complaints from students.

The NUS survey found 17 per cent of freshers reported having been victims of some form of sexual harassment during their first week of term, with a further 29 per cent having witnessed it directed at somebody else.

The most significant forms of harassment were unwanted sexual comments about people’s bodies - including wolf whistling when students walk into lectures – heckling in nightclub queues and jokes about rape. Some 59 per cent of these incidents happened during social events or at night clubs, and a further 33 per cent took place in halls of residence.

Susuana Amoah, NUS Women’s Officer, said: "It’s extremely worrying, but not surprising, that so many students in their first term of university have experienced sexual harassment or seen it happen to somebody else. NUS has been working over the last five years to bring sexual harassment on campus to the forefront of the national conversation, and make sure institutions are taking it seriously.

"Reporting systems for sexual harassment are either lacking or not visible to students in a lot of cases, and this needs to change. We are working with nine students’ unions who have audited their own processes and those of their institutions, and we will be supporting many more to carry on this work until students feel aware of how to report sexual harassment, and safe and confident that their concerns will be taken seriously."

 

napatcha / 123RF
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