Business Secretary Sajid Javid says assault against women students is 'completely unacceptable' and writes to Universities UK CEO

The National Union of Students (NUS) has said it is happy to see the Government take the issue of lad culture seriously after Business Secretary Sajid Javid ordered an inquiry into sexist behaviour at British universities.

NUS women’s officer, Susuana Amoah, said women are facing issues on campuses across the UK and hopes Mr Javid’s announcement will move to make education, work, and social spaces accessible to all women in order for them to be treated fairly and with respect.

She added: “We need the education community to get behind the work that NUS and students’ unions are doing and support students in challenging lad culture, sexual harassment, and violence on campuses.”

The NUS’s response has come after Mr Javid this week asked Universities UK to set up and lead a taskforce in order to develop a code of practice to bring about cultural change.

In a letter to the CEO of Universities UK, Nicola Dandridge, the taskforce has been asked to develop a code of practice for universities to follow, and to encourage institutions to ensure that the right links are in place with existing local activity, including through the Home Office’s violence against women and girls strategy.

Speaking of his concerns for his own family, Mr Javid said nobody should be put off going to university because of fears about their safety, and added: “If my children choose that path, I would expect my daughter to be as safe as my son on any campus in this country.

“This taskforce will ensure that universities have a plan to stamp out violence against women and provide a safe environment for all their students.

“We do not tolerate this behaviour in any part of society, and I’m not prepared to let it take place on university campuses unchecked.”

In an interview with The Sunday Times, the paper said Mr Javid hinted how his announcement was the result of a recent NUS report which found almost two-thirds of female undergraduates or graduates said that – while at university – they had been assaulted, either verbally or non-verbally, including groping and flashing.

Mr Javid told the paper: “These kind [sic] of things are completely unacceptable. We’ve got to do something about this.”

Universities Minister, Jo Johnson, also spoke on the issue. Acknowledging how universities already take their responsibilities for the safety of all students “incredibly seriously,” he added: “This task force will make sure the universities are doing all they can to meet their legal obligations.”