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Less Than Half Of Elite Russell Group Universities Don't Record Rape Allegations Properly

26/05/2015 10:52 BST | Updated 27/05/2015 14:59 BST

Less than half of Britain's elite universities do not properly record allegations of rape, sexual assaults or sexual harassment, an investigation has revealed.

Seven of the 24 Russell Group universities record only "some", while the same number admitted they do not "systematically" record the incidents.

A further one in five universities - Leeds, Liverpool, Cardiff, Manchester and King's College - do not even have specific guidelines for students on how to report such allegations, a freedom of information request by the Guardian found.

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The newspaper studied data from the past five years in order to compare strategies across the institutions, and found there was no standard system of reporting.

The news follows a campaign launched by Oxford University student Ione Wells, who wrote an open letter to her alleged sex attacker. The #NotGuilty initiative is aiming to encourage other responses regarding assault, victim blaming and community.

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The image spearheading the #NotGuilty campaign

Lizzie Jones, a HuffPost UK blogger who recently wrote about her experience of being sexually assaulted, said the news did not surprise her.

"I think there should absolutely be a set of rules around sexual assault reporting for universities stick to. I think it's an extremely difficult topic and people don't always know how to help. Especially when sexual assault didn't go as far as rape, and there should be a much better guide to help facility members deal with it best to help the students affected."

Last year, the National Union of Students (NUS) revealed one in four students had been subjected to unwelcome sexual advances, while 60% said they were not aware of any codes of conduct implemented by their university or students’ unions that prohibit or tackle sexual conversations, sexual comments, unwelcome sexual advances, group intimidation and verbal harassment.

In 2013, a report revealed half of students have experienced "prevailing sexism, laddism and a culture of harassment, with some even dropping out as a result.

In an interview with The Huffington Post UK, the NUS' former women's officer Kelley Temple voiced her concerns about the prominence of lad culture on campus.

"If men can't grope women in clubs, they're more likely to progress onto rape," she was once told by a male student council officer.

Temple blamed universities for not taking sexism seriously enough, adding: "Because of the success of a lot of feminists, it's become a lot acceptable to become openly sexist. But it hasn't disappeared, it hasn't gone away, it just manifests itself so it becomes a lot more covert and it exists under different guises and forms."

The NUS' women's officer Susuana Antubam said: "When 60% of students say they are not aware of any university codes of conduct that prohibit or tackle sexual comments, advances, intimidation or harassment it is clear that universities must face up to this issue."

Dr Wendy Piatt, director of the Russell Group, added: "Russell Group universities take the issue of any kind of harassment, abuse or violence against women extremely seriously indeed. Our institutions have robust policies and procedures in place to deal with these matters, because ensuring student safety and wellbeing is extremely important to us."

Rape Crisis services for women and girls who have been raped or have experienced sexual violence - 0808 802 9999

Survivors UK offers support for men and boys - 0845 122 1201