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Breaking the silence - preventing harassment and sexual misconduct


The procedure for handling student cases of harassment and sexual misconduct is different to other procedures as it gives more control to the complainant. It’s possible to have  the case investigated without any record being made on the student’s file and for actions limiting the complainant and respondent student’s interaction to be agreed without findings or sanctions.  Students also have the choice about which staff (if any) will be informed that a complaint has been made.

Students who have experienced harassment or sexual misconduct should complete the Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Report form and submit it to (the central University Office of Student Conduct, Complaints and Appeals).  The form will be considered using the Procedure for Handling cases of Student Harassment and Sexual Misconduct, the Explanatory notes on the Procedure, and the Policy on the use of personal information under the Procedure.

If the behaviour described in the report meets the definition of harassment or sexual misconduct within the Code of Conduct then it is likely that the behaviour will be investigated.  The complainant and respondent student both have the opportunity to seek support and advice throughout the investigation, which is conducted by an independent investigator. 

Following the investigation there is a choice between either:

  • the complainant and respondent agreeing to actions which aim to limit the opportunities for the complainant and respondent to interact – for example, that the respondent student should not contact or approach the complainant student.The respondent student can agree to the actions without admitting any wrongdoing; or

  • the complaint being referred to the University’s disciplinary proceedings – this can only be done with the complainant’s permission, but could take place where the complainant or respondent do not agree with the proposed options to limit the interaction between them.

Where a report is referred to University disciplinary proceedings, the University Advocate will consider all of the investigation materials and make a decision about whether to ‘charge’ the respondent student with a breach of the University regulations.  If the respondent student is ‘charged’, the complaint will be heard before the Discipline Committee; this group can make a finding about whether the behaviour took place and if so, impose a sanction on the respondent student. 

Student complaints about staff behaviour

If a student has any type of complaint about a University member of staff then this should be raised using the Student Complaint Procedure.  Where a complaint relates to harassment or sexual misconduct, a student can immediately raise the matter using the ‘Formal Resolution’ stage of the Procedure by completing the Formal Complaint form and submitting it to  The normal timeframe for making complaints is within 28 days of the matter arising; however, for complaints of staff harassment or sexual misconduct this timeframe can be extended.


If students or staff have any questions about these procedures and associated policies, they should be directed to the Office of Student Conduct, Complaints and Appeals (OSCCA) at or 01223 765440.

The University operates a counselling service for students and signposts students to other sources of advice and support.  Students can also seek free independent advice regarding any University or College procedures from the Students’ Unions’ Advice Service.