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Evaluation finds universities need to make more progress in tackling harassment and sexual misconduct

An independent evaluation, commissioned by the Office for Students into how well Universities and Colleges in England have adopted the Statement of Expectations in tackling harassment and sexual misconduct, has found that much more progress needs to be made. The evaluation has been published ahead of consultation in the new year on proposals for how tackling harassment and sexual misconduct would become a new condition for registration with OfS .

The statement of expectations provides a set of recommendations to support universities and colleges to develop and implement effective systems, policies and processes to prevent and respond to incidents of harassment and sexual misconduct. The evaluation found however that many recommendations in the statement have only been partially implemented, and that progress has been inconsistent and slow, with students in particular not yet seeing the changes they expected.

Whilst the evaluation found that the statement has led to improvements in the requisite policies and practices and increased attention to addressing harassment and sexual misconduct, particularly at leadership level, there remained substantial variation in the approach taken. Variations included a lack of evaluation to identify what works and a focus on student-student sexual misconduct, perhaps at the expense of interventions in relation to other forms of harassment and sexual misconduct.

The evaluation concluded that further regulatory intervention is needed to ensure universities and colleges tackle these issues.

During the evaluation a representative sample of 100 universities and colleges registered with the OfS were studied to examine how they had responded to the statement.

The report was accompanied by an OfS Insight Brief that looks at the current evidence on sexual misconduct and its prevalence and impact in higher education.