Cambridge University admits 'significant problem' with sexual misconduct after 173 complaints in nine months

Surge comes after the institution launched an awareness campaign last May

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Tuesday 06 February 2018 13:16
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The University of Cambridge has admitted to having a significant problem with sexual misconduct
The University of Cambridge has admitted to having a significant problem with sexual misconduct

The University of Cambridge has admitted to having a “significant problem” with sexual misconduct after it received 173 complaints in just nine months.

The majority of complaints (119) were made by students alleging sexual misconduct by other students. Two students complained against members of staff and seven staff members complained about fellow colleagues.

The university was the first to introduce the anonymous reporting system in May last year. It has now been adopted by other institutions such as the University of Manchester.

Cambridge said the spike in reports followed the launch in October of the university’s Breaking the Silence awareness campaign.

“We expected high numbers, and view it as a metric of success,” Professor Graham Virgo, pro-vice-chancellor for education, wrote in a blog on the university’s website.

“It appears victims have confidence in our promise that these figures will be used to judge the nature and scale of sexual misconduct affecting students and staff, and to act on it accordingly.”

He added: “The challenge is that one or two complaints a year do not give a university much information with which to formulate a response to the wider problem.

“Through the anonymous reporting tool, we now have a large number of Cambridge voices who have reported the issues they’ve faced.

“It supports our belief that we have a significant problem involving sexual misconduct – what we now need to ensure is that those who have been affected receive the support and guidance they need.”

On the university’s awareness campaign, Mr Virgo added: “Clearly, there is work still to do, but the campaign’s message that those who report will be supported and action can be taken is starting to have an impact.”

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