All third level colleges are to be required to measure cases of sexual harassment and bullying of staff and students as part of new “zero tolerance” initiative to create safe campuses for all.
Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris TD is to announce on Thursday that higher education institutions will be required to record and report these statistics annually from now on.
“We must work together to create a culture of zero tolerance, where education around consent is a requirement and not an option, not just for the students, but also for those teaching and guiding them,” he said in a statement.
“The very least they are entitled to is a safe environment to study and work free from harassment or violence.”
The announcement follows a recent letter from Mr Harris to college presidents requiring specific institutional action plans on tackling sexual violence and harassment in third level institutions.
He said these action plans will involve the implementation of systems that record the number of incidents of bullying, intimidation or harassment including sexual harassment.
“A substantial barrier to tackling these issues has been the lack of data indicating the extent of the problem. The recording of incidents by higher education institutions has been inconsistent,” he said.
“As part of working to improve this, a survey will be undertaken on harassment, sexual harassment and bullying of both staff and students in our higher education institutions.
"The survey will commence in the new year, and the Higher Education Authority is working closely with the higher education institutions in this regard.
He said it was essential that the “ voice of students and staff is at the centre of what we do” and the survey will allow us to hear directly from them.
Dr Ross Woods of the Higher Education Authority's centre of excellence for gender equality said harassment of any description cannot be tolerated in our higher education institutions.
“The HEA commends the work undertaken to date to make campuses safer for students,” Dr Woods said.
“Now it is time to capitalise on this through the implementation of the framework for consent and to expand on this work to address the pressing issue of harassment of staff.
“From an equality perspective, we know that bullying and harassment can seriously affect the careers of young female academics and we are committed to addressing this issue head on,” said Dr Woods.