Universities told to stop using gagging orders to silence victims of sexual violence

‘Victims should never be bought or bullied into silence,’ universities minister says

Universities are to be told they must stop using gagging orders to silence sexual violence victims, The Times reports.

Back in 2020, The BBC revealed that nearly a third of UK universities had used “non-disclosure agreements” to prevent students from going public with claims they had been sexually assaulted or bullied at university.

Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are legal contracts that exist to help businesses protect confidential information. They are increasingly being used by institutions to stop individuals from sharing sensitive information.

Universities minister Michelle Donelan will sign a pledge against the widespread practice of using NDAs to silence students who are trying to report bullying or abuse.

“Sexual harassment is horrendous,” Donelan told The Times. “Victims should never be bought or bullied into silence to protect the reputation of their university.

“The way that non-disclosure agreements are used on some campuses is a far cry from their proper purpose, for example to protect trade secrets. I’m urging all universities to do the decent thing and commit to ending this shabby practice once and for all.”

It’s understood that the vice-chancellors at Exeter and Buckinghamshire universities among others, are expected to sign up to the pledge.

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