Report finds sexual harassment is rife in universities

Almost one third of UK performing arts students have experienced sexual harassment, according to a new study. Titled Dignity in Study and conducted by Equity, the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) and the Musicians’ Union, researchers spoke to 600 current drama, dance and music students.

The study found that 27% had experienced sexual harassment, 42% bullying, 36% gender discrimination and 57% inappropriate behaviour. Of those who experienced such incidents, less than 50% chose to report them. Reasons cited were concerns over the reporting process, collusion between lecturers and cultural issues.

Commented Equity general secretary Christine Payne: “We have heard from our members regarding experiences of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour in their work. This includes student members, who have raised concerns with us about issues relating to the culture within higher education institutions and a lack of awareness around the policies and procedures in place.

“Although many higher education institutions are doing good work to ensure the safety of their students, it is clear there are several issues that must be addressed and taken seriously. This report clearly demonstrates a culture of fear that is preventing students from reporting abuse. This is unacceptable and our solutions, as set out in the report, must be considered.”

The proposed solutions include a safeguarding model, similar to the one use for children aged 18 and under; greater efforts to make students aware of current policies and reporting procedures; improved staff education; and improved monitoring of student welfare.

The full report is available online.

ism.org | equity.org.uk | musiciansunion.org.uk

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