A student has been offered £5,000 and had his therapy paid for by a leading university after an investigation found he was bullied by a lecturer who abused her position of trust.
The University College London student claimed he had been left traumatised after he claimed a female lecturer pursued an inappropriate sexual relationship with him. An independent report commissioned by the university said she had boasted about the power she had over him and how she could affect his future career.
An investigation was launched after he and another male student complained about the lecturer. It concluded that the lecturer in question made sexual comments and shared personal information about other students and colleagues. It also found she abused her position of trust as an employee at the university.
The independent investigator concluded there was evidence to warrant a tribunal with effect to dismiss but before this could happen she resigned and the case was closed.
The student is demanding an apology from UCL and has launched a complaint about how the university handled the issue. He alleges it failed to provide appropriate protection once an allegation was made and the disciplinary process took too long, lasting 16 months.
The student claimed the lecturer invited students to parties before making advances and claimed to have knowledge about his family history as a means of intimidation.
UCL has now offered the student £5,000 and has been paying for his therapy resulting from the event since 2019.
The student, who asked to remain anonymous, said it was hard to “find the courage to report this person, but once I did the upper echelons of the university just insisted on throwing barriers in my way and keeping quiet”.
He claimed that the way the university handled complaints was “not truly geared towards the victim’s needs or supporting them through the process(es), not integrated, is far too slow, and is full of pitfalls that no one told me about”.
He added: “There was a disparity in communication between the university and myself during the process as time moved on. I had no updates and was just being told to ‘wait and wait because this takes time’.”
A UCL spokesperson said they were aware that “unacceptable behaviour exists within our learning, working and living environment”, adding it has a “devastating effect on anyone who is affected by it”.
“It would not be appropriate to comment publicly on an individual case, but we can assure our community that we take misconduct very seriously and aim to act as swiftly as possible while ensuring due diligence and acting decisively when reports are made.
The university said the process to tackle such cases “can sometimes take longer” than it would like. “There may also be instances where a person at the centre of an allegation leaves UCL before their misconduct can be fully investigated or disciplinary action is taken,” it said.
An investigation by the Guardian in 2018 revealed that hundreds of academics had been accused of bullying students and colleagues in the past five years. It found nearly 300 academics, including senior professors and laboratory directors, were accused of bullying students and colleagues.
UCL has introduced a policy that explicitly bans personal relationships where there is a supervisory relationship, recognising the power imbalance which exists between staff and students in higher education and aims to ensure any abuses of power are prevented.
— to www.theguardian.com