Credit: Salih Ferhat on Unsplash

Sexual consent testing before starting university is supported by a majority of students

By Erin Doak

The poll published by the Higher Education Institute found almost two thirds of respondents believed there was a need for sexual consent testing pre-university.

A recent poll published by the Higher Education Policy Institute found that most students are in support of a compulsory sexual consent test before entry to higher education, whilst only 30% of students said they felt confident about navigating consent after alcohol consumption. 

Conducted by HEPI’s director Nick Hillman, the poll was published as a part of Sex and Relationships Among Students: Summary Report and specifically targets undergraduate students. The findings of this poll indicate the need for more discussion around consent and sexual health in universities, with a third of students claiming that they have “learned more about sex from pornography than from formal education”, and 58% of students agreeing with the statement: “Before applying to higher education, all students should have to pass an assessment to show that they fully understand sexual consent.”

While most students displayed strong knowledge about various sex and consent-related issues including sex and consent legislation, a significant minority said that they were not confident in these areas; 13% of students said they were “not very confident” or “not at all confident” in what constitutes sexual harassment and sexual assault, while 6% of students said they were not confident in “how not to put pressure on others to have sex”. Hillman, the author of this report, stated that these findings suggest that “schools, universities, and policymakers could all do more to help students navigate what is a key transition point in their lives”.

The website “Everyone’s Invited“, founded by UCL graduate Soma Sara in June 2020, aims to combat rape culture by publishing anonymous testimonies of sexual assault and harassment from students. Since March 2021, the website has received over 16,000 testimonies which reference 119 universities in the UK alone. The names of each university mentioned are publicly available on the “Everyone’s Invited” website; their aim to “continue to expose the prevalence of rape culture across all of society”.

The issue appears to be especially relevant to Glasgow, as there are existing references to the University of Glasgow on the website, and the University came under criticism earlier this year over its response to several cases of sexual assault on campus, as detailed in The Glasgow Guardian’s articles, “Glasgow University is failing sexual assault survivors” and the “Murano 12“. 

According to Helen Marshall, the Chief Executive of sexual health charity “Brook”: “Much more still needs to be done to support students at university”, and she states that there is “clear demand from students themselves for greater education around consent”. 


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