Thursday, October 18The Voice of London

Female students are more likely to be assaulted off-campus — and universities need to do more

By Jack Cummings

Universities UK may have published guidelines on how institutions should deal with violence and harassment towards women, but some students believe that the issue is greater off-campus — and should be dealt with there.

According to one 3rd year student at the University of Westminster, assaults occur most often in local bars popular with students rather than on-campus venues.

The student — who preferred not to be named — studies at Westminster’s Harrow campus, and believes that both local bars and their staff should receive university sanctioned training.

“Off-campus at clubs are where female students are at their most vulnerable.” she said, “There needs to be more broad welfare support from the university directed at local nightlife events.”

According to a spokesman for Universities UK, some institutions are doing exactly this. The University of East Anglia is among a small number who train local bar staff to better deal with sexual harassment and assault.

Primarily however, universities are dealing with assaults internally rather than externally. In a scheme led by Brunel University, 80 staff at 15 institutions will be trained to support victims through USVreact (Universities Supporting Victims of Sexual Violence).

Whilst the University of Westminster is not among these institutions, according to the third year Harrow campus student it is local bars where most assaults on her have taken place.

“Of perhaps 15 incidents during my time at University, most have occurred at off-campus venues. These range from groping to being forced upon, and as a woman it’s something you come to expect on a night out.”

The student however said that the venues themselves were not at fault for this, and believes it is the university’s responsibility to train local nightlife staff.

Some venues have indicated they would be open to this. According to Chris Perdue — the bar manager of Trinity in Harrow — such training from the University of Westminster would be welcomed, and the venue is always looking to improve on its safety practices.