SCOTTISH universities and colleges have been ordered to immediately overhaul their approach to tackling violence against women on campus or face a funding cut following a successful campaign by the family of a teenage student who took her own life after she was abused by her boyfriend.

Fiona Drouet, whose daughter Emily died aged 18 in 2016, has secured a commitment from Scottish Government education minister Shirley-Anne Somerville that institutions will retrain staff, offer better support to students and report statistics which show the number of incidents - or else face financial consequences.

Amid fears of major underreporting, the Sunday Herald revealed last week that fewer than 50 incidents of sexual misconduct were recorded by colleges and universities in each of the last three years. Some institutions didn’t record a single case.

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The low numbers indicate underreporting because victims fear academic consequences or worry that they will be blamed for the attacks, according the National Union of Students (NUS) and charity Zero Tolerance. NUS surveys have shown that a quarter of students have fended off unwelcome sexual advances and four in ten students have been sexually harassed by staff.

Fiona Drouet, from Glasgow, has been pushing the Scottish Government to introduce the 'Emily Test'. She said: “What universities need to do is to ask if their practices would have saved Emily and therefore pass the Emily Test.”

Drouet wants to ensure female students facing male violence get the support they need, and institutions are forced to publish the number of incidents. She also wants every student to be issued with support cards showing helpline numbers. Drouet has met education minister Shirley-Anne Somerville twice to call for change.

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Somerville has now agreed to a Scotland-wide rollout of a University of Strathclyde pilot project which will provide every institution with a toolkit to challenge violence on campus. The further and higher education minister has also ordered institutions to report incidents and improve support or face “tough action” which could see funding withheld.

Setting out her expectations for the sector in a letter of guidance to the Scottish Funding Council, which funds further and higher education, Somerville said institutions “should not delay in considering their own policies and practices, identify where gaps exist, and develop a framework for developing an effective, strategic and collaborative approach to preventing gender-based violence on campuses”.

She added: "This includes putting in place reporting systems, and data capture arrangements. Importantly, support arrangements should be developed to meet the needs and diversity of survivors, whilst also supporting their continuing engagement at university or college.”

Fiona Drouet said: “There is a misogynistic culture and there is a lot of unacceptable behaviour on campuses. The lines are so blurred that some of these young girls who are survivors don’t define what is happening to them as rape at the time. And the response when it’s reported can be to ask the survivor why they are trying to ruin the young boy’s life because ‘it’s only sex’. That is the mindset we need to challenge.

“I started the Emily Test campaign to make ministers listen and understand that there is a need for swift and robust action. The changes announced by the minister is a victory for the campaign. This is Emily’s legacy. She lost her life for this.”

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University of Aberdeen student Emily Drouet took her own life at a halls of residence in March 2016 after suffering verbal, physical and psychological abuse at the hands of former public schoolboy and fellow student Angus Milligan.

He was ordered by a court to carry out 180 hours of unpaid community work after he admitted to assaulting Emily and sending abusive and threatening messages. Sheriff Garden did not speculate on whether Milligan’s criminal behaviour led to her death, but he told Milligan that he “exhibited a controlling and violent approach” to the relationship.

Garden said: “It is impossible to imagine the level of distress and grief to which the family of Emily Drouet have been subjected.”

Drouet, who runs a childrenswear shop, and her husband Germain, a pilot who is from Paris, stopped working after their daughter’s death so that they could come to terms with the tragedy and take care of their younger children, Rachel, 14, and Calvin, 12.

Germain has only recently returned to work and Fiona has been focusing on the campaign for Emily. She said: “Emily’s gone and there is a pain now that I think we must accept will never ease. But we can now show our other children that some good has come from an awful situation.

“They gave us their blessing for this campaign – it was very difficult to see pictures of their sister having been abused – and we can now say to them this is what your sister has achieved.”

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Drouet met Somerville in January and again in February. She revealed the minister consulted her on the wording of the demands she sent to the Scottish Funding Council.

"I am determined to ensure a firm commitment which is crucial if we want to see constructive change," said Drouet. “I didn’t want this to end up another tick box exercise. I wanted it to be treated with the importance it deserves. The minister gave me her assurance. I asked that if she saw any single institution not being active in this area, she would threaten to cut their funding, and she said absolutely. The minister has been incredible. She has been so positive and has kept me involved.”

Somerville said: “I hope Mrs Drouet and her family can take some comfort in the fact that the Scottish Government is taking very seriously her wishes to make sure what happened to Emily doesn’t happen to any other student.”

Somerville also praised Fiona Drouet for her “remarkable” campaign. She added: “Mrs Drouet has played a crucial role in the development of this and I would really like to thank her and her family for the work they put in under difficult circumstances – we can’t even begin to imagine what this family has been through.”

The campaign victory was welcomed by Elena Semple of the National Union of Students. “Emily’s tragic story shows why we cannot afford to ignore the horror of gender-based violence in our universities and colleges.”

She added: “There’s still much more that needs to be done, however. Staff in every department, at every campus, must be trained on identifying and acting on gender-based violence. We need to see properly sign-posted reporting procedures and support services in place, and students must be able to access vital training on issues like consent and bystander interventions.”

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Zero Tolerance co-director Laura Tomson said the toolkit will “play an essential role in the eradication of violence against women” but Scotland “still has a long way to go to achieve the gender equality that will help prevent this violence”.

The toolkit was developed by researchers at the University of Strathclyde, who have also carried out a survey which is expected to give an indication of the prevalence of sexual harassment and violence on campuses in Scotland.

Anni Donaldson, the university’s Equally Safe in Higher Education lead, said she hopes the work will “ultimately help create a culture where women students can live and study free of gender-based violence”.


FURTHER and higher education minister, Shirley-Anne Somerville, has laid down the law to universities and colleges telling them she wants regular progress reports on how they are tackling violence against women on campus.

Last week the Sunday Herald revealed colleges and universities recorded fewer than 50 cases of sexual misconduct a year, figures which Somerville said are a cause for concern because of under-reporting gender-based violence on campuses.

Somerville said she will “keep a very close eye on what’s going on” and warned institutions of the consequences if they don’t fulfil the obligations set out in her letter to the Scottish Funding Council.

“The Equally Safe process is part of their outcome agreement,” said Somerville. “The Scottish Funding Council will challenge any university or college that isn’t doing enough.

“I fully expect that universities and colleges will implement and adopt this policy, but the funding council will also keep a close eye on that. We have an annual process where universities and colleges report back and we can take tough action if it is required.”

On Wednesday a new toolkit for universities and colleges will be launched to help staff tackle violence against women on campus. Shona Struthers, Chief Executive of Colleges Scotland, welcomed the toolkit and said institutions are working to “strengthen the protocols in place for effectively dealing with this extremely serious issue”.

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Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland, said the toolkit will “build on existing good practice in universities”.


Dozens of student victims of sexual violence have come forward since Rape Crisis began offering campus counselling sessions as part of the Equally Safe pilot project at the University of Strathclyde.

The service, set up in September last year, has been inundated and there is currently a four-week waiting list for support.

Jenny MacLaren, who provides counselling to students, said: “It was at full capacity straight away. We had people coming in to talk about everything from sexism and sexual harassment to sexual abuse and rape. At first it was one day a week and then we had to go up to two days. There is a clear need for this service and every college and university in Scotland should have this support on campus.”

Isabelle Kerr, manager of Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis, said the rollout of the toolkit will be “a huge step forward”.

She said: “Across the country there is an issue with sexual violence on campus. We’re part of the response. The toolkit will be available as a template for colleges and universities to develop their own provision.”