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Two thirds of freshers not aware of sexual harrassment reporting procedures at university

Wednesday 21 October 2015

NUS is today releasing data showing 61 per cent of first-year students are not aware of procedures to report sexual harassment incidents at their universities.

The survey aimed to find out the extent to which students had either been victims of or witnesses to sexual harassment during their first week of term.

17 per cent of respondents stated they had 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.

59 per cent of these incidents happened social events or night clubs, and a further 33 per cent in halls of residents.

Alarmingly, 61 per cent stated that they were not made aware of any codes of conduct implemented by their university, with a further 29 per cent not sure.

66 per cent stated they were not aware of the procedure to report these incidents and 12 per cent felt they would not be taken seriously if they did.

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.”


  1. For more information on the survey, please contact the NUS press office on 07866 695010 or
  2. Sample: The survey was completed on October 14 2015 from a nationally significant sample frame with a total of 2670 respondents. The profile was 46 per cent male and 52 percent female, 73 per cent of the respondents were aged between 18 and 20 and two per cent were first year students. The remainder were first year postgraduate students. 
  3. You can find out more about the Lad Culture Pilot Scheme here.