Students Back Compulsory Test On Understanding Sexual Consent | TOTUM
Ben HaywardApril 28th
2021

A majority of students in the UK say they would back a compulsory test on understanding sexual consent at the start of university, a new survey has revealed.  

Carried out by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), the survey found that 58% of students supported the idea of being required to pass a test to show a full understanding of sexual consent, reports the BBC.

The revelation comes after universities have faced repeated warnings over the prevalence of sexual harassment on campuses. 

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In 2019, research carried out by the National Union of Students (NUS), found that one in seven students reported they had been raped or subjected to an attempted rape, while more than one in three have experienced unwanted sexual contact, such as pinching or groping, while a similar proportion had someone attempt to kiss them against their will.

The HEPI survey, looked at responses from 1,000 students and found that just 25% felt they had been adequately prepared by sex education in school to have a ‘comprehensive understanding of sexual consent’, with particular concerns raised about consent when alcohol and/or drugs were involved.

Looking at students' experiences of sex and relationships, the report said the findings challenged some stereotypes about student life, suggesting it is actually 'less hedonistic than is sometimes supposed’.

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43% of undergraduates, suggested they had not had sex before going to university, with 25% revealing they had never ‘intimately kissed’ anyone.

Of the male students consulted, two-thirds said they hadn’t had sex during their time as a student, with 53% of female students stating the same. 

11% of all those asked said they were ‘voluntarily abstaining from sex’, while two-thirds revealed they were not currently in a relationship.

On the other hand, friendships seemed to be more important than sexual partners, with 58% of students saying it was more important to make friends than to ‘find people to have sex with’ when going to university.

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Around a third said they had never been in any ‘intimate relationship’ - either sexual or non-sexual - or ‘kissed someone on a night out’ during their time at university while just over 30% said they currently watched pornography - although this was twice as likely among men than women.

The report said it aimed to provide a greater amount of reliable evidence about students' sex lives, and had shown that the stereotype of the promiscuous, irresponsible student actually needed to be reconsidered. 

Director of HEPI, Nick Hillman, said he hoped the findings could ‘help students navigate what is a key transition point in their lives’.

"By telling students about the experiences of their peers, we hope the results will make it easier for them to make informed decisions about their own lives, he added.

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