UCL bans student-staff relationships

University College London (UCL) has become the third university in the UK to ban, “personal and intimate relationships” between staff and students over whom they have a supervisory role. The new guidelines state that, “UCL academic, research and professional services staff, postgraduate teaching assistants, and student mentors are in a position of trust. This policy seeks to protect students and staff from allegations of actual or perceived conflicts of interest, and to limit circumstances where a position of power may be abused.” The new guidelines also prohibit relationships between any member of staff and a student who is under 18 or identified as an ‘adult at risk’. Any other relationship between a student and a member of staff without a supervisory role over them is to be declared for the consideration of the university. Students are strongly encouraged to report any behaviour that they feel is inappropriate. An undeclared relationship, or one between a student and a member of staff with direct supervisory authority over them, will result in disciplinary action. Similar policies have been taken up in recent years by the University of Greenwich and the University of Roehampton, though The Guardian reports that others are considering the position. Rachel Watters, women’s officer at the National Union of Students, is one of those in favour: “Given the public focus on sexual misconduct in higher education and elsewhere, we would hope and expect more universities to revise their policies in similar ways.”

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Eliza Jack

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June 2022
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