Student guide to tackling harassment, hate and sexual misconduct

About our consultation

We recently consulted on a new approach to tackling harassment and sexual misconduct in English higher education and wanted to hear your views.

What did we propose?

We proposed a new condition of registration to ensure that students are protected from harassment and sexual misconduct.

English universities and colleges would have to meet this condition to register with, or stay registered with, the Office for Students. 

The proposed new condition would require universities and colleges to publish a single document explaining:

  • the steps it will take to protect students from harassment and sexual misconduct
  • arrangements for handling incidents
  • details of how it will support anyone involved in incidents
  • details of training for students and staff.

This new approach would also:

  • provide clear and specific definitions of harassment and sexual misconduct
  • prohibit non-disclosure agreements forbidding students to talk about incidents of harassment and sexual misconduct
  • place regulatory requirements on universities and colleges in relation to personal relationships between students and relevant staff.

You can read our proposals in full in our consultation document.

Why do we want to make changes?

In April 2021 we launched our statement of expectations to help universities and colleges develop effective ways to tackle harassment and sexual misconduct. 

An independent evaluation of the statement of expectations published in November 2022 found that while progress had been made, it has been slow and inconsistent. 

We now want to take a new approach to ensure that incidents of harassment and sexual misconduct in higher education reduce and that students can have confidence that they will be supported.

Outcomes of the consultation

The deadline for responses to the consultation was 4 May 2023. We aim to publish a summary of responses and our decisions later in 2024.

Published 23 February 2023
Last updated 09 May 2023
09 May 2023
Page updated to reflect that the consultation is now closed.
02 March 2023
A video guide to the proposals has been added to the page.

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