Two thirds of unis teach sexual consent to students

Concern is rising over reports of sexual misconduct on UK campuses

university students
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Around two thirds of universities are teaching sexual consent classes, as concern mounts over abuse on campus.

Edinburgh, Kent, Durham and Oxford are among the universities running “consent training” for students. At some institutions, attendance is compulsory.

The training typically involves classes on how to seek consent before sexual encounters, how to recognise consent and how to identify situations in which it cannot be given.

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The Times reports that Edinburgh offers a class entitled “MeToo Surviving University”, for those who have experienced sexual or domestic abuse, and “How to be good in bed”, a mock game show in which experts, activists and performers answer questions on sex, consent, pleasure, power and relationships.

Durham University says it offers a course called Consent Matters, which covers “consent; how to seek it, how to recognise it and how to identify situations where it cannot be given. It teaches the importance of good communication, clear boundaries and mutual respect”.

The findings come from a survey by Universities UK (UUK), which represents vice-chancellors. It asked nearly 100 institutions how they were addressing concerns about sexual harassment and abuse on campus.

UUK launched the survey after students at Warwick University made rape threats on social media and the University of Cambridge admitted that it had a “significant problem” with sexual misconduct.

The group said its findings showed higher education institutions had made progress in tackling gender-based violence but that universities must do more.

Last week, a BBC investigation found last week that reports of rape, sexual assault and harassment on campus had trebled in three years, from 476 in 2016-17 to 1,436 in the last academic year.

Chris Skidmore, the universities minister, said: “I am urging all leaders to prioritise a zero-tolerance culture to all harassment and hate crime.”

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