Australian universities make global news – but not in a good way 

Australian universities have an impressive international reputation. I’m always excited when I see that the Australian National University, where I studied, is a lot more than a local university in my hometown.

Unfortunately, this week the Australian university system has also shown itself to have a dark side, with an Australian Human Rights Commission report finding that:

Around half of all university students (51%) were sexually harassed on at least one occasion in 2016, and 6.9% of students were sexually assaulted on at least one occasion in 2015 or 2016. A significant proportion of the sexual harassment experienced by students in 2015 and 2016 occurred in university settings.

This has made the news internationally, for example in The New York Times. The Australian universities are conspicuously responding to the report, with a range of different measures, including mandatory training that is being proposed by a number of institutions. I received an email this morning from the Vice-Chancellor at ANU, which was sent to alumni.Hopefully, the Australia’s university population can build a sustained effort, beyond the immediate news headlines, to repair campus culture. And while the international press has been reporting the Australian news, unfortunately, this is much more than an Australian problem as demonstrated, for example, by this US report from 2015.

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