Sexual violence is widespread at one of Scotland’s leading higher education institutions, new research has claimed.

A survey of 148 current and former students and staff at Stirling University revealed that 53 per cent had experienced attacks including sexual harassment, assault or rape.

In addition, nearly one quarter said someone they know had been a victim.

According to the findings, which are set out in a new report from campaigners at Reclaim Stirling, the prevalence of sexual violence within the university is “high”.

The document also states that the percentage of those who did not report incidents was significantly above the figure for those who came forward to lodge complaints.

University bosses are now facing demands to address issues such as the lack of faith students have in their ability to support victims.

One response provided to researchers said: “Sexual assault and rape happens every year at this uni and someone needs to do something about it.

“I spoke to my friends and they all said they had experienced it or knew someone who did at the uni so it’s high time something changed.”

Another said: “The university has a reputation for not dealing with it well at all and several people I’ve spoken to have been made to feel like they’re creating a drama over nothing by reporting sexual harassment.”

HeraldScotland: Many incidents of sexual violence are not being reported, according to research by the Reclaim Stirling Campaign.Many incidents of sexual violence are not being reported, according to research by the Reclaim Stirling Campaign.

A spokeswoman for the university said that tackling sexual violence was a priority for the university and the report’s findings would be given “full and thorough consideration”.

The report also states that incidents occurred in a wide range of circumstances, with many taking place off-campus in a Stirling bar or club (29.7%).

Nearly a quarter (23%) occurred on-campus in the grounds or in accommodation.

Overall, 62.2% of responses said the incident of sexual violence or harassment had not been reported either to the university or police.

“When answering why this was the case, many responses echoed similar fears of being repressed or not believed,” the document adds.

On the issue of help offered to victims or those who know victims, it states that the majority of responses suggest the university provided “very little support or that they received the majority of their support from their friend group and social circle”.

While the report says Reclaim Stirling “does not seek to unnecessarily criticise or devalue the positive work which the University does in supporting students who have experienced sexual violence”, it stresses that the survey’s headline results call into question the effectiveness of its official #IsThisOk campaign.

In her foreword to the report, Elena Semple, General Secretary of the Stirling Student Tenants Union and Former NUS Vice-President of Communities, said: “Reviewing the results in this report, we see that there is plenty room for improvement, from conveying the prevalence of sexual violence and how to combat this as well as fair and just outcomes on how perpetrators are dealt with.”

Jill Stevenson, Dean for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Stirling, said: “Preventing and tackling genderbased violence, and supporting anyone affected by it, remains a priority for the University and Stirling Students’ Union. Guided by our joint strategy – first launched in 2017 – and working with students, staff and specialist partners, including survivors with lived experience, we continue to tackle gender-based violence through both prevention and response.

“We have invested significantly and made important progress in this area over the past four years; however, we recognise that genderbased violence persists in society, including at universities, and we remain deeply committed to enhancing our approach."

Saying that she had reached out to the authors of the report, Ms Stevenson added: “We welcome the survey undertaken by Reclaim Stirling and will give full and thorough consideration to its findings and recommendations.”