The government has ordered an inquiry into reducing violence against women at universities amid concerns “lad culture” is endangering female students.
University heads have been ordered to lead a taskforce to look into the problem and draw up a code of practice “to bring about cultural change”.
Business secretary, Sajid Javid, who ordered the review, said: “Nobody should be put off going to university because of fears about their safety. If my children choose that path, I would expect my daughter to be as safe as my son on any campus in this country.
“This taskforce will ensure that universities have a plan to stamp out violence against women and provide a safe environment for all their students. We do not tolerate this behaviour in any part of society and I’m not prepared to let it take place on university campuses unchecked.”
He wrote to Universities UK, which represents the country’s vice-chancellors, this weekend, ordering the investigation.
It comes amid major concerns male undergraduates are subjecting women to harassment and unwanted sexual advances. Male students are known to engage in sexist “banter”, harassment and even sexual assault – particularly during the first week of term, known as freshers’ week.
Research carried out by the National Union of Students last year revealed that a quarter of students had been groped or subjected to inappropriate touching. Two-thirds of the 2,000 students polled said they had seen students have to put up with unwanted sexual comments.
The taskforce will also look at how complaints can be better handled and work with crime prevention officers to tackle the problem. Universities could be rated on how well they perform using a certification scheme that would give the stamp of approval to institutions which best tackle sexism and violence against women.
“Government orders inquiry over violence against women at universities”