Up to 15 staff-student relationships reported at Edinburgh University in last four years

No disciplinary measures were taken by the university against any individuals

Over the past four years, there have been up to 15 cases of intimate staff-student relationships reported at the University of Edinburgh.

Data obtained by The Tab from a freedom of information request has revealed that seven such relationships were reported in 2019, with no disclosures in 2020/21 and fewer than five in each of the years following.

Prior to the introduction of the university’s Disclosure of Intimate Relationships Policy, established in February 2019, intimate relationships weren’t specifically recorded and tracked.

The university’s approach to these relationships has been one of caution rather than disciplinary action. None of the disclosed relationships were found to involve conflicts of interest, and no participants faced disciplinary measures.

While not wishing to interfere in the personal lives of its students or staff, the University of Edinburgh discourages intimate relationships between staff and students.

“The University strongly discourages relationships of an intimate nature between staff and students and recognises that there are risks when one party is in a position of power, trust and authority relative to the other.”

In contrast, several other Russell Group universities have taken a more hardline approach – University College London, the University of Exeter, the University of Nottingham, and the University of Oxford have outright banned staff-student relationships. UCL was a pioneer in this respect, being the first in the Russell Group to implement such a ban.

Other universities such as the University of Cambridge, the University of Manchester, and the University of Bristol, however, align more closely with the University of Edinburgh’s approach, emphasising disclosure over prohibition, requiring staff members to formally disclose any such relationships, with non-compliance being treated as a disciplinary issue, potentially leading to dismissal.

A University of Edinburgh spokesperson said: “The University aims to provide an environment where everyone in our community can excel and thrive. We therefore have a duty of care to preserve the integrity of professional relationships between students and staff members, and between workplace colleagues.

“We do not wish to interfere in the personal lives of our students or staff, nor do we seek to prohibit intimate relationships between consenting adults. However, we also recognise that there are risks when one party is in a position of trust and authority relative to the other. In 2019, the University implemented a new policy to provide clarity around the disclosure of staff/student and staff/staff relationships to minimise these risks and help protect the wellbeing of all students and staff.”

Featured image via Matej Kastelic/Shutterstock.

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