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Gender based violence in Scottish higher education : a multi-method analysis

McCarry, Melanie and McCullough, Aimee Claire and Stevenson, Kenneth (2017) Gender based violence in Scottish higher education : a multi-method analysis. In: IInd European Conference on Domestic Violence, 2017-09-06 - 2017-09-09, University of Porto.

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The issue of gender-based violence in UK higher education contexts has gained attention among researchers, the government, the media and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in recent years. Notably, national and international media coverage has highlighted universities as sites of violence against women, with particular emphasis on sexual violence and harassment. Evidence indicates 1 in 4 female students in the UK have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour during their studies (NUS, 2011). This paper presents research findings from the Equally Safe in Higher Education Project (ESHE), based at the University of Strathclyde (Scotland), which is implementing the Scottish Government’s strategy for eradicating violence against women and girls. Employing both a campus wide survey, as well as interviews and focus groups, the research represents the first quantitative and qualitative data set across a whole campus, student and staff, cohort within a Scottish University. This unique mixed-methods analysis provides findings on both incidence and prevalence, as well as attitudes to and experiences of, gender-based violence in a Scottish HEI. The paper explores a number of themes including sexual violence, coercion, stalking, harassment, intimate partner violence, perpetration, reporting behaviours as well as perceptions of campus safety and ‘lad culture.’ It covers both student-student, staff-student and staff-staff abuse in addition to intimate partner abuse experiences. These pioneering research findings provide a greater understanding of gender-based violence within Scottish HEIs, and contribute to the wider discussions and development of policy formation and effective response and prevention of gender-based violence within Scottish Higher Education.