Only a third of reports of sexual misconduct to St Andrews resulted in disciplinary action
30 cases have been reported in the last three years
Less than 40 per cent of sexual assaults reported to St Andrews University resulted in disciplinary action, The St Andrews Tab can reveal.
The St Andrews Tab submitted Freedom Of Information (FOI) requests to the university, which revealed St Andrews received just 30 reports of sexual assaults from undergraduates between 2017 and 2020.
Of these, there were only 11 disciplinary procedures carried out, which means the university has only used punishment for 37 per cent.
The university policy is to record sexual assaults as sexual misconduct. They define sexual misconduct as something which “covers a broad range of inappropriate, unwanted, behaviour. From the most severe forms of sexual violence including rape and sexual assault, it also extends to unwanted touching, stalking, abusive or degrading remarks and across the vast range of inappropriate behaviour in between.”
The number of allegations/reports of incidents of a sexual nature made to the University involving undergraduate students in each academic year:
Out of these 30 complaints, there were only 11 disciplinary procedures carried out. This means the university has only taken measures for 37 per cent of reported sexual assaults from 2017-2020. Disciplinary actions taken include “warnings, suspensions” and students being forced to leave the university.
Each report is considered on a “case by case basis” and there is no set punishment for any misconduct.
We contacted the University of St Andrews Press Office about why disciplinary action statistics were so low. A spokesperson said: “Our challenge is to create a culture in which students have the confidence to report sexual misconduct, knowing they will be taken seriously and receive the best possible support.
“Along with long-term prevention and cultural change programmes, the University has been working with student representatives, staff, unions, and support services to ensure we have transparent procedures for managing complaints of sexual misconduct, which prioritise safety and wellbeing. Last year we received 11 reports of sexual misconduct, each of which was addressed according to these procedures.
“The University has no locus to investigate in place of the Police, but we facilitate and support reporting to the Police. We will also undertake a Conduct Risk Assessment. This is not part of a disciplinary process, but is intended to ensure student safety. We will also help survivors who choose to pursue disciplinary action, if the Police are not investigating, to achieve fair outcomes.
“The most important thing is we want survivors to come forward and get help, secure in the knowledge that we will listen without rushing to judgement, solutions or taking control away from them.”
The University also said: “Student representatives have told us fear and confusion are the main reasons students don’t report sexual violence.
“We want to combat this with education—and ensure all students know where to find information and how to report” sexual misconduct.
There is a currently a real push by student groups to combat these incredibly low reporting figures. A petition organised by the Students Against Gender-Based Violence On Campus, calling for the university to “address the state of sexual and gender-based violence in St Andrews”, is currently sitting at 692 signatures.
Each year, the Reclaim the Night March takes place across St Andrews (pictured), highlighting how many student and townspeople alike are prepared to come together and protest against all forms of assault.
Last year, the charity Brook and online student database Dig-In published figures for sexual harassment at UK universities. They said “only a quarter of students who were forced into having sex went on to report it” and “nearly half of women (49 per cent) said they were inappropriately touched but only five per cent reported it”.
St Andrews Survivors
Last month an Instagram account, @standrewssurvivors began sharing survivors stories with the aim “to expose the reality of sexual abuse at our university” and “empower survivors”. All stories are shared anonymously and the page offers resources regarding sexual abuse and rape. Not all stories shared on the account relate to sexual assault committed at the University.
The university told The St Andrews Tab an annual survey conducted by the university revealed “90% of users agreed or strongly agreed that they were satisfied with the service” related to support for sexual assault survivors.
Information and support for students experiencing any form of sexual misconduct are available via the University.
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Featured image via Sarah Collinson.