UK prevalence of university student and staff experiences of sexual violence and domestic violence and abuse: a systematic review from 2002 to 2022

Cassandra Jones*, Nicola Farrelly, Christine Barter

*Corresponding author for this work

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Research documenting the prevalence and impact of UK university students’ experiences of gender-based violence (GBV) has significantly developed over the past decade, yet there has been no systematic synthesis of this evidence. This systematic review aimed to synthesise findings relating to the prevalence and impacts of GBV among staff and students in UK universities, with a focus on sexual violence (SV) and domestic violence and abuse (DVA). The search strategies involved a variety of approaches to identify both published and unpublished research, including systematic searches of electronic databases and direct contact with experts. A total of twenty-five studies focusing on SV and eight studies focusing on DVA were identified. Despite inconsistent research design, sampling frameworks, definitions and measures, and limited studies on staff experiences, review findings suggest that SV is a major issue for university students, impacting on well-being, personal relationships and academic performance. In contrast, few DVA studies were identified, many shared a range of methodological limitations, drawing on majority female samples and focusing mainly on perpetration. Validated measurement tools, consistency in study designs and sampling frameworks, which include minority student and staff populations, would strengthen current understandings of SV and DVA within UK universities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalEuropean Journal of Higher Education
Early online date11 Jan 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Jan 2024

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