Response to Universities UK Taskforce Report ‘Changing the Culture’

21 Oct 2016

“This must signal the end to patchy support for student survivors of sexual assault.” Dianne Whitfield, Co Chair of Rape Crisis England & Wales.

Women students have the right to study and live in a safe and respectful environment. Unfortunately, as local Rape Crisis Centres know too well, sexual harassment on campus and off, sexual assaults and rape are significant problems that all Universities are grappling with. Abuse via social media is a growing problem too. We therefore welcome this report and have been pleased to advise the Taskforce. 

The report and new disciplinary guidance for Universities on rape and other criminal matters mark a significant new approach to a deep-rooted problem that has long been swept under the carpet. The starting point of equality and human rights brings the guidance up to date with current standards.

The Taskforce makes explicit recommendations to Universities to build links with local Rape Crisis Centres. We look forward to building these links, not least as most student survivors of rape and sexual violence do not report to the authorities. We would urge all institutions to follow the lead of Universities such as Durham and Coventry that fund or work with local Rape Crisis services in order to ensure that all survivors have access to support, whether or not they choose to report.