Minister Harris confirms survey into harassment, sexual harassment and bullying of staff and students in higher education institutions

Maura O'Shea

By Maura O'Shea

Posted: 26 November, 2020

closeup of white torn paper on red paper background with text - Stop harassment

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has confirmed a survey is to be carried out into harassment, sexual harassment and bullying of both staff and students in our higher education institutions.

Minister Harris said: “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. 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 Minister Harris to Presidents of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) requiring specific institutional action plans on tackling sexual violence and harassment in our third level institutions.

Speaking at an event for the Irish University Association today, Minister Harris said: “These action plans will involve the implementation of systems that record the number of incidents of bullying, intimidation or harassment including sexual harassment.

“HEIs will be required to report statistics annually to the HEA, once the action plans of each institution are in place.

“A substantial barrier to tackling these issues has been the lack of data indicating the extent of the problem. The recording of incidents by HEIs has been inconsistent.

“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.

“It is essential the voice of students and staff is at the centre of what we do and this survey will allow us to hear directly from them.”

Dr Ross Woods of the HEA Centre of Excellence for Gender Equality said harassment of any description cannot be tolerated in our higher education institutions and the HEA is committed to ensuring that our campuses are safe and supportive place for all students and staff.

“The HEA commends the work undertaken to date to make campuses safer for students. 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.


More: bullying, harassment, HEA, higher education institutions, Minister for Further and Higher Education, minister simon harris, ross woods, sexual harassment

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