Prevent and address harassment and sexual misconduct

What we’re doing

Statement of expectations

In April 2021 we published a statement of expectations that provides a clear and consistent set of standards for colleges and universities to help them to develop and implement effective systems, policies and processes to prevent and respond to incidents of harassment and sexual misconduct.

In November 2022 we published an independent evaluation on the actions universities and colleges have taken in response to the statement of expectations. It concluded while progress has been made, further regulatory intervention is needed to ensure universities and colleges tackle this issue.

Consultation on a new approach

Following on from the independent evaluation of the statement of expectations, we recently consulted on a new approach to regulating harassment and sexual misconduct in English higher education.

Subject to the outcomes of the consultation (to be published later in 2023), a new condition of registration could be in place during the next academic year.

Find out more about the consultation

Pilot prevalence survey

We are also developing a pilot survey to understand more about sexual misconduct in higher education, including how widespread it is and the context in which incidents occur. 

The survey will ask students about their experiences of sexual misconduct, including how these experiences affected their studies and the reporting mechanisms that universities and colleges have in place.

Find out more about the survey

Catalyst Student Safeguarding Programme

Our £4.7 million student safeguarding Catalyst programme supported 119 projects across the higher education sector, with a particular focus on sexual violence, online harassment and hate crime, including religion-based hate crime.

Find out more about the student safeguarding programme, including resources produced by the projects and independent evaluation reports. 

Guidance and collaboration

In addition, we have:

  • shared effective practice to inform the development of evidence-based policy to drive change across the sector
  • joined UKRI’s forum for tackling bullying and harassment which brings together funding, policy and regulatory organisations, both in the UK and internationally, which will work together at a system level to raise awareness and bring about culture change, share and disseminate learning and practice and promote collaboration to maximise the impact of policies and resources
  • worked in partnership with sector bodies and student groups to identify and promote best emerging and effective practice, research and evidence.
Published 19 April 2021
Last updated 09 May 2023
09 May 2023
The consultation on a new approach to regulating harassment and sexual misconduct in English higher education is now closed
23 February 2023
Details of the consultation on a new approach to regulating harassment and sexual misconduct in English higher education, and the pilot prevalence survey published
10 November 2022
Independent evaluation of the statement of expectations published, and details of next steps

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