Oxford University, a world-class school eminent around the globe as the second oldest educator is also often cited as the best university on the planet. The male-to-female student’s ratio in this esteemed university is always, almost equal, but a new story unraveling from the depth of the prestigious establishment is questioning the very foundation of its policies in place for the student’s safety.

Sexual abuse in universities and schools have long included both student and faculty assaults. But, Oxford university is not alone, a substantial number of reputed UK-based universities are accused of failing to fully investigate the majority of the sexual misconduct cases against both staff and students.

According to a recent survey by the Association of American University, an estimate of 20% of all female undergraduates have faced some form of sexual assault or misconduct in their colleague life. Whereas, another data revealed that the percentage of male sexual abuse in college hovers about 6% to 8%.

The Plotholes in Investigations

The lack of investigations of reported cases in the universities is the highlight of the recent releases. How vaguely, the cases are dispersed, without any in-depth inquiry places the victims in cold water. According to a report by Al Jazeera, of a total of 113 UK-based universities, 1,403 cases of student-sexual abuse have been reported in the time-space of 2017-2020.

But, the real figures are much higher, as many universities denied sharing the information citing privacy reasons. The fact, that most of the cases might go unreported from the fear of shame, grades, or the culprit can also not be neglected.

Of the 1,403 reported cases, only 487 accusations were fully investigated in which a proper investigation was launched and conducted by the university. Whereas, 309 of the cases received no future investigation or action from the university’s end.

In other words, 87% of complaints of sexual misconduct did not lead to any disciplinary action against the complainant. In several instances, a few students and staff members who were accused of misconduct left before an official investigation could be conducted.

The universities have said that they intend to conduct a full investigation pending the outcome of the police inquiry in several cases where the victims filed an official police report. The universities, however, did not investigate the majority of complaints dropped by the police.

Some universities, such as Oxford University, have policies that stipulate they are not required to investigate if a student doesn’t report the matter to the police. Despite many universities claiming they can investigate even if the police drop the case.

Misconducts by Staff

In addition to the cases pertaining to student-to-student assaults, out of 164 universities, 51 also sent complaints about staff inappropriate behavior and sexual misconduct against students, totaling 252 complaints. Complaints that were investigated suffered the same attrition rate as those that were not investigated. The university properly investigated only 81 out of 252 complaints of sexual misconduct against university employees. Out of those investigated, 51 remained unresolved.

After an investigation, 14 percent of the accused staff members have been dismissed, compared with 3 percent of students who have been expelled after being accused of sexual misconduct. According to Al Jazeera, two Oxford professors abused their authority by acting in a sexist and drunken way, and that the appropriate universities and colleges did not address the problem.

Professor Andy Orchard shared her story of misconduct with three prominent academic women, now themselves respected professors. At present, Orchard is the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University and Associate Fellow at Pembroke College, but the stories date back to her days at Cambridge and Toronto Universities.

Students are reluctant to file formal complaints regarding staff misconduct because of the impact this may have on their precarious academic careers. Usually, disciplinary action is not taken against the alleged perpetrators even when complaints are investigated. Additionally, some institutions cited exemptions based on privacy regulations or failed to respond at all.

Final Words

Most of the victimized students claim that universities intently try to subside the cases of assault off their table, in an aim to maintain their reputation in the world’s eye. But, what the students have to pay for culprit subjugation is putting the safety of the existing and future students in grave danger.

Though universities claim that all the allegations of sexual harassment are taken seriously, the experiences and stories of students, tell a whole different story. Furthermore, when the most esteemed educators of the world are suppressing such important issues, the realities of other marginal establishments in worrisome.