Staff sexual misconduct in higher education: impacts, responses and challenges

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Sexual misconduct perpetrated by academic staff affects tens of thousands of students in the UK, particularly women, LGBTQ+ students and postgraduate students. It can take a variety of forms including sexual or gender harassment, ‘grooming’, and/or sexual assault or rape. It can be difficult for those targeted to recognise sexual misconduct while it is occurring due to a lack of clear professional boundaries between staff and students in higher education. Staff sexual misconduct can have both academic and non-academic impacts, however, most people do not report it and rely on family and friends for support. Those who do report tend to do so in order to protect themselves from further harm, to protect other students or staff from being targeted by the same perpetrator, or to be able to continue their studies/career. Unfortunately, current practice for handling staff sexual misconduct complaints in UK HE institutions fails to offer a fair process, as the complainant is relegated to the status of ‘witness’ in disciplinary proceedings taken by the institution against the perpetrator. Institutions also need to improve safeguarding practices and remedies offered to students whose complaints are upheld.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStopping Gender-based Violence in Higher Education
EditorsClarissa Humphreys, Graham Towl
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2022

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