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Scores of universities have issued gagging orders to silence students

Anger over ‘abuse of power’ as it emerges scores of universities have issued gagging orders to silence students complaining about bad teaching, harassment and sexual assault

  • 45 higher education institutions admitted using gagging orders on students 
  • Payments from universities that admitted using NDAs totalled around £1.3million
  • Critics say non-disclosure agreements can be wrongly used to suppress allegations

Universities have been accused of ‘abuse of power’ after scores admitted using non-disclosure agreements to silence students.

A ‘staggering’ 45 institutions admitted using the gagging agreements to stop complainants speaking out about issues from poor teaching and misleading advertising to harassment and sexual assault.

The secrecy clauses were often used in conjunction with payments of between £250 and £40,000, the BBC’s The Next Episode podcast also found.

Payments from universities which admitted using NDAs totalled around £1.3million over the past four years. 

Reacting to the figures, Universities Minister Chris Skidmore said: ‘This is an abuse of power. It is staggering that some universities have used [NDAs] against students’

Critics say non-disclosure agreements can be wrongly used to suppress allegations of discreditable behaviour, and are intimidatory.

Reacting to the figures, Universities Minister Chris Skidmore said: ‘This is an abuse of power. It is staggering that some universities have used [NDAs] against students.’

According to the BBC, female student victims of sexual assault were among those asked to sign NDAs. 

One student who was allegedly raped said she felt ‘forced’ to sign the document, which threatened her with expulsion if she revealed what had happened. 

Another student, who claims she was assaulted, said a staff member at the University of West London ‘thanked’ her for not pursuing a complaint. 

She said she signed an NDA and took £1,000 compensation but was left feeling ‘retraumatised’.

Nicola Dandridge, pictured in 2012, of watchdog the Office for Students, said: ‘It is wrong if universities prioritise reputation over dealing with complaints fairly’

Nicola Dandridge, pictured in 2012, of watchdog the Office for Students, said: ‘It is wrong if universities prioritise reputation over dealing with complaints fairly’

Nicola Dandridge, of watchdog the Office for Students, said: ‘It is wrong if universities prioritise reputation over dealing with complaints fairly.’

Universities UK said: ‘Universities should not be using NDAs to prevent open conversations about harassment.’ 

The University of West London said: ‘The University would never threaten a student with expulsion in such circumstances… nor would we pay a student or thank them for not pursuing a criminal offence.’

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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