Sexual Assault and Harassment Guidance

These guidelines are intended as a starting point for you to think about the support you need and how to access it.

The University is committed to supporting students who have experienced or been affected by sexual violence or misconduct. We will not tolerate sexual violence within the University community and will take the appropriate action regarding those who commit it.

Sexual violence may take many forms. In addition to rape and sexual assault, it includes sexual harassment, i.e. any behaviour that is humiliating, intimidating or hostile, and may include actions like derogatory name calling, belittling remarks, insults, threats, unwanted personal attention.

If you have experienced sexual violence or misconduct, the University will support you by:

  • listening to you.
  • treating you sensitively and with respect.
  • respecting confidentiality.
  • providing or signposting further support that you may need.
  • taking further action (for example, disciplinary action) if this is appropriate.

Are you safe?

If you are in physical danger or in need of immediate medical attention, call the emergency services on 999.

Medical assistance

You can access medical advice and support for injuries or infections from your GP, local hospital, or the NHS Lothian Sexual Health Clinic. Medical practitioners will adhere to strict patient confidentiality guidelines.

If you intend to report sexual assault, please be aware that there is a time window for collection of forensic evidence. This can depend on certain circumstances, such as whether you have showered since the incident. Our team of trained Sexual Violence Misconduct Liaison Officers (SVMLO), Rape Crisis Scotland, Police Scotland, or a medical professional can explain this to you in more detail –details can be found below.

University support

For any form of sexual violence or harassment, you can make contact with the University’s support services by reporting via our secure online reporting system:

We will provide you with information and advice on the reporting and support options available in the University.

If you choose to report and seek support from a trained adviser.  The Support and Liaison Adviser (SALA) provides a frontline advice and support service for students who have experienced sexual harassment or assault and can advise you on what options there are, including:

Taking action against the perpetrator using the University Complaints Handling procedures (including the possibility of a University order to suspend the perpetrator from any further contact with you).

Changing accommodation, if necessary.

Referring you to other support agencies such as Rape Crisis Scotland.

The SALA will not disclose any of your details to a third party (including the University or the police) without your consent unless they believe that you or someone else are at imminent risk of harm. In this case, the staff would discuss this with you first.

Further support

You can access the services of the Student Counselling and Wellbeing team.

You can find out more about the range of national and local support services available to survivors of rape and sexual assault in Scotland in the Scottish Government publication “Information and help after rape and sexual assault”.

If you have experienced rape or sexual assault, you may want to contact Rape Crisis Scotland directly.

They provide a national rape crisis helpline on 08088 01 03 02 and also offer email support for anyone affected by sexual violence, regardless of gender, no matter when or how it happened.

The helpline is open from 6pm to midnight, 7 days a week, and offers free and confidential support.

They publish a useful and comprehensive set of FAQs for survivors of rape and sexual assault within their website. Further information is available via the link below:

Rape Crisis Scotland: Information about sexual violence

The Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre (ERCC) offers emotional and practical support, information and advocacy to women, all members of the transgender community, and non-binary people who have experienced sexual violence at any time in their lives. ERCC is located at 17 Claremont Crescent, Edinburgh, EH7 4HX.

You can leave them a message on 0131 556 9437, or email

NHS SARC Service: If someone is unsure about whether they want to report to the police but would like to have the option to report in the future they can use the SARC for a forensic medical examination by a specialist female doctor/nurse. SARCS is an NHS Scotland sexual assault self-referral phone service which can help you arrange care for yourself in the days following a rape or sexual assault. The service can arrange you to have a forensic medical examination within 7 days of the assault, without making a report to the Police. They can be contacted 24/7 on 0800 148 8888.

SurvivorsUK provide a national helpline for men who have experienced sexual abuse and offer support through web chat, WhatsApp, phone, and text.

Reporting the incident anonymously. Crime stoppers can be contacted at any point on 0800 555 111 or use their online form

Galop is a charity that supports lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and queer people affected by sexual violence.

The National Stalking Helpline can give you information and advice on support and options available to you.

Edinburgh Women’s Aid provides a range of services for women and their children experiencing domestic violence.

RESPECT is an advice line for male victims of domestic abuse

Telling the University

Deciding to tell the University is always your choice, and you may decide to disclose details of the assault or harassment to the University reporting via our secure online reporting system: For example, you may want the University to take action under its Student Conduct Regulations, or staff disciplinary procedure.

Investigation under the Student Conduct Regulations

If you make a complaint relating to sexual violence or misconduct involving another student, the University will consider whether it is appropriate to take action under the Student Conduct Regulations. While the criminal process will consider whether a crime has been committed, the University’s disciplinary process considers whether there has been a breach of these Regulations.

All students are expected to comply with the Student Conduct Regulations which includes examples of the types of behaviour which would be regarded as unacceptable, such as “violent, indecent, disorderly, threatening or offensive behaviour…including harassment”. In addition the Regulations make reference to any form of gender based violence towards any member of staff, other employee of the University or any visitor to the University. The University aligns to the definitions of gender based violence outlined by the Scottish Government’s Equally Safe initiative.

The University will carry out an investigation into the matter (depending on whether the matter has been or is likely to be subject to police consideration), and will discuss the process with you in advance to ensure that you are comfortable with each stage.

You can expect the University to carry out a risk assessment to understand whether there is a risk to members of the University community. As part of this risk assessment the University will ask a trained member of staff to gather some background information about the case and they may request to speak with you about it to make sure your needs and concerns are fully understood. If, as a result of the risk assessment, the University concludes that there is a significant risk to the wider community, the University may take precautionary action, such as imposing a partial or full suspension on the related student until the case is concluded.

The University will share the minimum amount of information needed in order to conduct its investigation. This could, however, involve speaking to any witnesses, as well as the student (or students) to whom your complaint relates.

The University’s investigation will be as thorough as reasonably possible, but will be more limited than a police investigation, since the University does not have access to forensics, and cannot compel witnesses to give evidence.

At every stage of our investigation, including where it leads to a hearing before the University Disciplinary Committee, we will take reasonable steps to ensure that you do not have to come into contact with the student (or students) your complaint relates to.

Police Investigation

If a police investigation or criminal proceedings are taking place, the University will not normally carry out its own investigation until the criminal process is complete. This is because there is a high risk that a University investigation could compromise any police investigation or criminal proceedings.

The University will not normally report an allegation of rape or sexual assault to the Police without your permission, however there may be circumstances where it would be appropriate to do so.  Any such decision would be taken following discussion with you and as permitted by law.

If the alleged perpetrator of the rape or assault represents a continued threat to other members of the University community, it may be necessary for the University to breach confidentiality and report the assault to the Police. Any such decision would be taken by a senior member of the University leadership team including School Deans following discussion with you, and based on legal advice if needed.

In the event of a criminal investigation, University staff may be required to give evidence about any conversations they have had with you or your representatives.

Once the criminal case is concluded, the University will then consider whether it is necessary to pursue its own, full investigation into misconduct. This may happen relatively quickly (e.g. if no charges are brought) or it may take a significant amount of time (e.g. if the case goes to court, to trial, then to appeal, etc.).

Investigation under the staff disciplinary procedure

If you make a complaint relating to sexual violence or harassment involving a member of University staff, this will be investigated under the University’s staff disciplinary procedure.

A member of staff will be appointed to investigate your complaint, who will meet with you to discuss your complaint. They will also meet with the member of staff your complaint relates to, and any witnesses identified by yourself or the member of staff. Once the investigation has been completed, a decision will be made on whether this matter will proceed to a disciplinary hearing.

If the decision is to proceed to a hearing following the investigation, a disciplinary panel will consider the conduct of the staff member. In line with the University’s staff disciplinary procedure and its duty as an employer, the action taken by the disciplinary panel will remain confidential.

Are there times when the University will not take action?

The University has the same responsibilities towards all of its students. Sometimes there is not enough evidence available in a case for the University to take action against another student, or a member of staff. Where this occurs, the University will explain this to you, and try to find out whether there are other ways to support you, such as whether reasonable steps can be taken to ensure that you do not have to come into contact with the person your complaint relates to.

If you have any queries or comments about this guidance, please contact the Student Safeguarding and Equality Manager

For further advice about the Complaint Handling Procedure, email