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Bullying and harassment survey to be carried out at higher education institutions

Colleges will be required to report annual bullying and sexual harassment statistics.

Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin welcomed the news.
Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin welcomed the news.
Image: Sasko lazarov/Photocall Ireland

A SURVEY WILL be carried out into harassment, sexual harassment and bullying of students and staff in Ireland’s higher education institutions.

Higher education minister Simon Harris announced the survey today, saying students and educators are entitled to a safe environment free from harassment or violence.

It comes after a high-profile case which saw Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin – a broadcaster and lecturer in University College Dublin (UCD) – subjected to harassment from a colleague for two years.

“We must work together to create a culture of zero tolerance, where education around consent is a requirement and not an option, not just for the students, but also for those teaching and guiding them,” Harris said today.

The minister recently instructed all higher education institutions to create action plans for tackling sexual violence and harassment. The institutions will be required to report statistics annually to the Higher Education Authority, once the action plans are in place.

Harris said that institutions have been inconsistent in recording incidents of harassment and bullying, leading to a lack of data indicating the extent of the problem.

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The survey is an effort to rectify the dearth of information. It will commence in the new year.

“It is essential the voice of students and staff is at the centre of what we do and this survey will allow us to hear directly from them,” Harris added. 

Dr Ní Shúilleabháin said she was “delighted” with the development. “Congratulations to Minister Simon Harris on taking these actions to make our higher education institutes safer places to work and study,” she wrote on Twitter.

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Ceimin Burke

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