OIA welcomes UUK Guidance for addressing staff to student sexual misconduct

We welcome this UUK-led work on guidance for addressing staff to student sexual misconduct.

Sexual misconduct is an important and complex issue, and the additional considerations that can arise in staff to student misconduct can present particular challenges. The guidance will make a valuable contribution to supporting universities and other higher education providers in addressing these issues.

We are pleased to have contributed our learning from complaints to the development of this guidance as part of our work with other organisations in the higher education sector to help develop thinking around good practice in this area. The guidance recommends that providers define and embed an inclusive and positive culture and we see this as an important step towards preventing sexual misconduct. We welcome the emphasis on the importance of having effective processes, and ensuring that students are given an outcome to their complaint.

Felicity Mitchell, Independent Adjudicator said:

“It’s important that higher education providers take steps to promote an inclusive culture in which expectations of behaviour are clear, to reduce the likelihood of sexual misconduct, and that they have appropriate policies and procedures in place to respond effectively when it does occur. It can be very difficult for students to raise such sensitive issues, and it can be challenging for providers to balance the needs and rights of reporting students with their obligations towards their employees. It is vital that students feel confident to report their concerns, and that they are well supported through any processes.”


Notes to Editors

For further information please contact Jenn Runde, Communications Officer, mediarelations@oiahe.org.uk, 0118 959 9813.

  1. The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) is the independent student complaints ombuds for higher education in England and Wales. It is the designated operator of the student complaints’ scheme under the Higher Education Act 2004.
  2. Our Scheme is free to students and has been designed to be accessible to all students, without the need for legal representation.
  3. We have a wide remit to review student complaints about higher education providers in England and Wales, as set out in the Rules of our Scheme.
  4. Our Briefing Note provides guidance on handling student complaints involving sexual misconduct, and our Good Practice Framework includes guidance on complaints procedures and other relevant processes such as disciplinary procedures.