A study carried out by the Higher Education Policy institute has found that 58% of students support the idea of being required to pass a consent test before going to university. This would demonstrate a student’s full understanding of sexual consent, and comes after universities have faced repeated warnings over the number of sexual harassment cases on campus.

What are the statistics of sexual harassment in UK universities? 

In a study published in September 2020, Unsafe Spaces: Ending Sexual Abuse in Universities, researchers estimated that 50,000 incidents of sexual abuse or harassment take place in universities in England and Wales each year. The majority of which, according to the researchers, go unreported.

Similarly, Revolt Sexual Assault has found that almost two-thirds (62%) of students and graduates experienced sexual violence at UK universities. Only 10% of these students reported their experiences, and a further 31% of students felt pressured into sexual behaviour.

What would consent lessons consist of?

A lot of students are not taught consent by their parents, and it is often glossed over in schools too. This leads to a lack of understanding that plays into the high statistics of sexual harassment, abuse and violence on university campuses.

For a long time, a lot of schools taught consent through one simple video: the tea video.

This is a good starting place, but for anyone who perhaps doesn’t understand analogies – it is not the most efficient way of providing a good groundwork for understanding consent. It needs to be built on.

One group, Teach Consent, have created a video called ‘Ask. Listen. Respect.’, which they hope will help tweens and teens between 11 and 16 understand how to ask for consent, what enthusiastic consent looks like, and also how to respond to rejection. Videos and resources like this could help people understand exactly when consent isn’t valid, and what they can do to make sure that their behaviour is not harassment.

When is consent not valid?

If the individual is not capable of giving consent (i.e they are a child, protected, inebriated, drugged or asleep), then any idea of consent is invalid. Likewise, if the consent is not freely given; so if the person is not able to refuse without fear of detriment, or is not able to withdraw their consent, then the consent is not valid.