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Education briefing – Staff to Student Sexual Misconduct – a Guide to the Legal Framework

  • United Kingdom
  • Education - Briefings

10-10-2022

 

Sexual misconduct is a key concern for the HE sector. Higher education providers are under close scrutiny in relation to the adequacy of the measures in place to prevent sexual misconduct, their responses to incidents of sexual misconduct and how they support students and staff affected by such misconduct. In addition, strategies for preventing and responding to sexual misconduct are increasingly seen as a focus for higher education providers’ environmental, social and governance agendas.

Staff to student sexual misconduct is a particularly challenging area. In recognition of this, Universities UK has recently published a suite of documents on “Changing the culture: tackling staff-to-student sexual misconduct”. As well as strategic and practical guidance for HEIs, this includes an Eversheds Sutherlands’ Guide to the Legal Framework in this area, written by our HE sector specialists.

Our Legal Framework guidance:

• gives a comprehensive overview of relevant legal and regulatory considerations for preventing, and responding to, staff to student sexual harassment and sexual misconduct and when reviewing your current governance and procedural framework for addressing this difficult and sensitive area

• sets out the obligations owed to the reporting student and the reported member of staff and explores difficult issues such as confidentiality and information-sharing

• explores the interaction between these obligations and offers thoughts on how to manage and improve the interface between staff and student procedures and designing and applying these in a way that provides the reporting student with a greater voice and increased transparency of process and outcome, particularly where the issue is being dealt with under a staff disciplinary procedure

• highlights the importance of providing briefings and training to students, staff and governors to raise awareness and understanding of staff to student sexual misconduct.