News and Views

Surveys launched on sexual violence and harassment experiences of staff and students in Irish higher education

15 Apr 2021

A nationwide cross-sector survey on the experiences of staff and students in Irish higher education, in relation to sexual harassment and violence has been launched.

The survey is being conducted by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), at the request of the Minister for Further Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, T.D.

The survey has been launched with a view to providing a baseline of understanding as to the nature and prevalence of incidents of harassment and abuse, and to inform the sector’s institutional responses to the requirements of the National Framework to End Sexual Harassment and Violence across Irish higher education institutions (HEIs).

Minister Harris said: This will be the opening of a conversation with students and staff of our higher education institutions.

“It is a conversation which may trigger difficulties for many people. Sexual harassment or sexual violence can be committed by a person of any gender. We know this can occur between people of the same or different genders, but we know the majority of victims are women.  It is often targeted and perpetrated to demean, diminish, and intimidate.

“Sexual harassment or violence can happen between strangers or acquaintances, including people involved in an intimate or sexual relationship.

“Our priority here is to have an open and honest conversation about sexual harassment and how our third level sector can become a leader in confronting these challenges.”

The survey is aimed at all staff and students working and learning in HEIs in the Republic of Ireland, regardless of their personal experience of sexual violence and/or harassment.

Both surveys take an average of 10-15 minutes to complete, and participation is both voluntary and anonymous. It will run until 30 April, and the results will be collated to provide an overall picture of sexual violence and harassment across the Irish HE sector.


Professor John O'Halloran, Interim President of UCC, said: “University College Cork is dedicated to the safety and well-being of our staff and students, and as a campus community we demand a zero tolerance approach to all forms of sexual harassment and violence. Our dedicated University Steering Group has developed a comprehensive Action Plan to implement the National Consent Framework, strengthening our existing supports and processes which strive to ensure a safe and respectful learning and working environment for all.”

Professor Louise Crowley, Director of the Bystander Intervention Programme and Project Lead for the UCC National Framework Implementation Group, welcomed the survey launch.

“Through the development of the Bystander Intervention programme, UCC has become recognised as a sector leader in tackling the unacceptable prevalence of sexual harassment and violence across Third Level institutions," said Professor Crowley.

"As part of our efforts to develop an accessible architecture of education and support for all staff and students, we endorse the roll out of these National surveys to allow us to better understand the nature and extent of the challenges faced on our campus. Through gathering the data from survey responses our ongoing endeavours will be informed and shaped by the lived experiences of our staff and students,” she added.

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF