Report: 18% of higher education students experienced bullying in the last academic year

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris said the report will inform further anti-bullying policies in colleges.

18.4% of students have experienced  online and offline bullying over the last academic year, according to the findings of the National Survey of Staff Experiences of Bullying in Higher Education Institutions.

The report, which was commissioned by the Department of Higher Education, presents the findings of a survey conducted by the Dublin City University Anti-Bullying Centre. 

Of the 2,573 students surveyed, 31.6% of respondents reported that they had witnessed bullying at their college in the past year.

59.1% of those students that witnessed bullying also reported that they had taken action to help the target. 

The survey also found that ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ students and disabled students were more likely to experience bullying while at college.

The report recommended the development of anti-bullying policies, greater education, training and support for faculty, and the implementation of evidence-based support programmes.

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris said: “I’ve placed a real focus on ensuring our third level institutions are a safe place for everyone, no matter who you are or where you are from.

“This survey, together with the staff bullying surveys and student and staff surveys of experiences of sexual violence and harassment in higher education, have provided a rich source of evidence which will inform further actions to address these issues and make higher education a safe place for staff and students.”

Harris also noted that bullying is increasingly taking place online and emphasised the importance of ensuring the third level sector is equipped to “make every institution a safe place to work and study in”. 

The findings of the report will next be submitted to the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) committee of the Higher Education Authority (HEA) for its consideration and suggestions. 

Senior Manager of the HEA’s Centre of Excellence for EDI, Dr Jennie Rothwell said the report is a “valuable addition” to efforts to end bullying and harassment in higher education

“Reflecting on the findings of the report will support institutions in developing a campus culture that is inclusive and respectful for all,” she said.

In August of last year, the National Survey of Staff Experiences of Bullying in Higher Education Institutions, found that 33.5% of higher education staff have experienced bullying in the workplace.

Charlotte Kent

Charlotte Kent is the Co-News Editor at Trinity News and a Senior Freshman PPES Student.