AN independent inquiry into allegations of sexism at a Scottish university has highlighted the possibility of criminal behaviour in its student union.

The findings, to be published today, say comments on the ­internet about Glasgow University Union (GUU) referred to "sexual assaults being carried out in the form of groping, touching or ­forcing sexual advances".

The report adds: "There was some suggestion such sexualised behaviour from some student members had become normalised with some of the female students accepting the behaviour as part of membership of GUU."

It was set up earlier this year after allegations of sexist heckling were made by two females who took part in a debate organised by the GUU in March.

The two women - from the universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh - said they were met with boos and calls of "shame" as they spoke about how religion affected women's rights.

The women claimed at the time the interruptions were "misogynistic" and that they were also met with comments about their appearance and choice of clothes.

Two students were eventually cleared of accusations they subjected the women debaters to sexist abuse, but the GUU decided to hold an independent inquiry into its culture.

The inquiry was led by SNP MSP Sandra White, Consultant ­Haematologist at Forth Valley NHS Dr Roderick Neilson and Glasgow University law professor Noreen Burrows.

Their report highlights the "remarkable" global public outcry following the events, stating: "Condemnation of the union has been widespread from students on campus to alumni in Australia and Africa and from our fellow student bodies and the university.

"Regardless of any facts, the public perception of the union is one where there is a pervading discriminatory culture."

The report goes on to refer to information posted by students on websites about "sexist and misogynistic behaviour" on the part of some student members of the GUU - some of whom have held office.

This "inappropriate behaviour" within the premises of GUU had created "an intimidating, ­uncomfortable or unwelcoming atmosphere".

As a result the inquiry team has recommended GUU provides every student with information regarding harassment, including a definition of harassment, an explanation of the kind of behaviour which is not tolerated and the possible legal consequences of inappropriate behaviour.

It states: "It should take ­immediate steps to ensure that staff members, members of the union or visitors to the union are not subject to harassment or bullying."

Overall, the inquiry ­recommends a root-and-branch review of the running of GUU with a modernised constitution, a better mix of people on the board of management and a proper student complaints procedure.

In addition, it calls for a new code of discipline with specific sanctions where behaviour is inappropriate.

In reference to debates, the report noted the rules had already been changed to ensure anyone guilty of offensive or discriminatory language or conduct could be evicted from the chamber.

GUU president Gavin Tulloch, who was appointed after the ­allegations first surfaced, welcomed the report. He said: "We are ­grateful to the members of the commission for giving their time to review the culture of the union and for their recommendations to effect changes, which we have either already implemented or are in the process of implementing.

"All of us involved with the day-to-day management of the GUU are determined to do everything that we can to make the union as open, safe and welcoming an environment as possible for all students and guests.

"We would like to be clear - our union does not and will not tolerate prejudice, however it is manifested. The recommendations of this report will help us to achieve that."