Harassment, hate and sexual misconduct

This page explains the Office for Students’ role in addressing harassment, hate and sexual misconduct affecting students and includes details of where you can find support.

What you can expect from the Office for Students

Many universities and colleges work hard to make sure students know who to turn when they experienced harassment or sexual misconduct, as well as making sure they can access the right support.

The specific needs of students vary between different universities and colleges, and individual institutions are responsible for developing their own policies and procedures to address harassment and sexual misconduct.

But the OfS has an important role in aiming to ensure that every student is supported to access, succeed in, and progress from higher education. As part of this we consider that all higher education students, however and wherever they are studying, should be protected from harassment and sexual misconduct.

Our work in harassment and sexual misconduct covers three broad areas:

  1. Provide a consistent set of standards to support universities and colleges to develop and implement effective systems, policies and processes to prevent and respond to incidents of harassment and sexual misconduct.
  2. Working with a range of partners to develop and share sector-wide effective practice, guidance and resources.
  3. Providing funding for higher education providers to develop practical and innovative approaches and solutions.

Read more about our work on harassment, hate and sexual misconduct.

Notifying us

Please note, we do not have legal powers to investigate complaints from individual students. Please see our complaints page for further details.

However, you can submit a notification to us if you feel that a university or college is not meeting the requirements set out in our registration conditions. Please see our notifications page for further details.

Ways to get support

If you choose to disclose or report your experience of harassment, hate or sexual misconduct to your university or college, they may have support available to you or can advise you on where to access appropriate support.

There are also a number of organisations and charities that may be able to support you, for example:

  • Police
    Practical information about reporting incidents and the police force in your area.
  • Citizens Advice
    Citizens Advice has more information about what you can do if you’ve experienced, or know someone who has experienced, a hate incident or crime. Hate incidents and hate crime happen because of prejudice or hostility based on a person's disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity.
  • Rape Crisis England and Wales
    Rape Crisis can help you find a Rape Crisis Centre, get online emotional support, or find information and self-help tools.
  • NSPCC Abuse in Education Helpline
    Provides victims of abuse with the appropriate support, advice and onward action, including on contacting professionals or the police if they wish.
  • Stonewall
    Stonewall can help you find LGBT support services and community groups that are local to you.
  • TellMama
    TellMama offers a secure service that allows people from across England to report any form of anti-Muslim abuse.
  • Disability Rights UK
    Disability Rights UK has a disabled students' helpline, providing advice to disabled students studying in England. They also campaign to improve disabled people's rights and to tackle hostility, bullying and hate crime.
  • Community Security Trust
    The Community Security Trust is a charity that protects British Jews from antisemitism.
Published 19 April 2021

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