“Changing the Culture: Tackling Staff v Student Sexual Misconduct – a strategic guide”

Are you a University tackling staff v student sexual misconduct?

Would you welcome expert practitioner help to investigate complaints?

Intersol Global was delighted to assist Universities UK with the content of this strategy guide, drawing on their experience of investigating over 100 serious sexual misconduct reports in the sector. They are retained by 12 universities as external impartial specialists and have also trained over 500 staff to better investigate the more minor discipline reports.

 View the paper here.

The guidance calls for collective and urgent action by university leaders and governing bodies to acknowledge and address staff-to-student sexual misconduct within individual institutions and across wider higher education, supporting English universities to implement the Office for Student’s (OfS) statement of expectations (2021) for preventing and addressing harassment and sexual misconduct.

Some headlines from the guide include:

“Universities have legal and ethical responsibilities for the safety and wellbeing of all students and staff”.

“Universities should develop a university-wide strategic response to staff v student sexual misconduct. This should include a robust prevention strategy, together with a fair, clear, and accessible approach for responding to allegations (investigations), disclosures, reports, and complaints”.

“Given the involvement of both student and staff processes, it’s important that there is joined-up thinking across HR and student services so that student and staff policies and practices work together. Specific consideration is also drawn to:

  • balancing the rights of, and obligations to, both the reporting and responding parties.
  • ensuring reporting parties are aware that any action by a university to an anonymous report may be limited due to natural justice, which states that the responding party has the right to know what they are accused of.
  • providing clear guidance to help manage expectations for both parties.
  • increasing transparency in sharing data on outcomes and sanctions of complaints and disciplinary processes, where it is necessary and lawful to do so.

Ensuring the process for managing complaints, risk assessments, investigations, and disciplinary processes are fit for purpose and reflect sector best practice avoiding the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) or confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements in cases of sexual misconduct and harassment