It is feared by campaigners that sexual harassment and assault is going unreported in Scottish universities, due to low figures.
Data gained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by The Times reveals that of 15 institutions, nine of them had less than five reported cases since the beginning of the decade.
By comparison, a survey run by the National Union of Students (NUS) in 2015 found that a fifth of first-year students had been a victim of sexual harassment in some form. It also revealed that 61 percent of students had no knowledge of their university’s code of conduct.
Edinburgh University, which has over 33,000 students, has reported only 49 cases of sexual harassment and assault since 2010; 35 reports being made in the last academic year. Aberdeen University does not categorise complaints and was unable to report any cases.
Last year 18-year-old Emily Drouet, a student at Aberdeen University, killed herself following physical and psychological abuse from her boyfriend.
Her mother, Fiona, is now campaigning against gender-based violence. Speaking to the Times, she questioned whether universities were aware of under-reporting and what they were doing to encourage people to speak up.
“It’s unthinkable that a university wouldn’t think that this is something that is important enough to categorise. There’s real denial that the problem exists but we can’t bury our heads in the sand any longer.”
A spokesperson for Aberdeen University has since stated: “We are continually looking at our procedures to see if there are any opportunities to enhance our approach in this area, and we are in the process of developing a policy that will aim to introduce practical interventions around violence and harassment in the student environment.”
Many institutions in Scotland have said they have recently stepped up campaigns to encourage students to come forward, and have had noticeable success.