More than one third of female students in survey report experiencing rape

A majority of student and staff respondents said they felt safe on campus

The government today released the results of a a national survey on student and staff experiences of sexual violence and sexual harassment.

7,901 students and 3,516 staff participated,with a majority saying they feel safe on campus, including in campus accommodation. A majority also said that they would feel supported if they came forward with accounts of sexual harassment and thought it unlikely that their Higher Education Institution (HEI) would respond negatively.

However, large numbers of respondents reported experiencing various kinds of hostility, harassment or violence.

According to the report, a majority of students said they had experienced sexism and sexist hostility. 67% reported this happening at least once, 63% reported offensive remarks, and 66% reported being put down or condescended to because of their gender.

54% of students said they had experienced sexual harassment, such as repeatedly being told offensive sexual stories or jokes, and over half experienced unwelcome attempts at being drawn into a discussion of sexual matters, or offensive remarks about appearance, body or sexual activities.

14% of student participants said someone had oral sex with them while they were incapacitated and unable to give consent, while 7% said this had happened when they were physically forced to do so.

34.2% of female students had experienced non-consensual vaginal penetration through coercion, incapacitation, force, or threat of force.

57% of students in the survey have encountered offensive remarks about their bodies and appearance. 

While 72% of university staff reported feeling safe from sexual harassment on campus, a quarter had also faced unwanted sexual comments. 81% of staff respondents agreed that they felt safe from sexual violence at their HEI.

Over 80% of staff members agreed that they would be willing to complete bystander intervention training and consent awareness (76%), if such training was made available by their HEI.

71% of staff members reported having experienced low levels of sexual violence. 12% said they experienced unwanted sexual contact such as being touched in a way that made them feel uncomfortable.

Using the findings from the survey, the Irish Universities Association (IUA) said that it hopes to improve students’ and staff safety from sexual harassment. 

Dr Marie Connolly, Director of Equality Diversity and Inclusion for the IUA, commented: “While it’s positive that the majority of our staff and students feel safe from sexual violence and harassment on campus it is very clear that there is a lot more work to do.”

This article was amended on January 28 to better reflect the most significant findings of the survey.