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Frequently asked questions

Who is taking part in this research?

We invited universities in England to take part in the pilot. If you are an undergraduate or postgraduate student at one of the participating universities, your university will send you further information about the project. IFF will then contact you by email in September 2023 with an invitation to take part in the online survey. You will have until the start of November to complete the survey.

Do I have to take part?

No, taking part in this research is completely voluntary and you can withdraw at any time. There is no obligation to take part in any subsequent research.

What will taking part involve?

The survey will take up to 15 minutes to complete. Please note, you will be able to return to the survey at any time, so you don’t need to complete it in one sitting.

How were the survey questions designed?

In designing the questionnaire OfS drew on international best practice in ‘campus climate’ and prevalence surveys. Examples include the National Student Safety Survey in Australia, the ARC3 – widely adopted by colleges in the United States – and the Republic of Ireland’s Student Experience of Sexual Violence and Harassment Survey. OfS also engaged an advisory group of academics with expertise in sexual misconduct research as well as student services managers and sexual misconduct specialist practitioners. In the later stages of development the survey was also cognitively tested with x40 students to ensure both readability and suitability of the questions.

Please note:

  • The survey starts by asking about behaviours related to sexual harassment, excluding those involving physical contact. The latter is covered in the second half of the survey, alongside detailed descriptions of such behaviours.
  • The language of some of the questions is deliberately explicit which some respondents may find uncomfortable. Such questions are clearly marked with content warnings throughout and can be skipped entirely if preferred.  
  • It is important that the questions are asked in this way to avoid ambiguity – these kinds of behavioural questions are much more likely to provide an accurate picture of prevalence and so reduce the risk of underestimating the issue.

What support will be available for me?

We know that the survey content may be distressing for some students, and we have taken great care to ensure the questions are designed to limit this distress as much as possible. You’ll be able to skip any questions you don’t wish to answer or stop at any time. We’d like to assure you that your answers to these questions will be completely confidential. The published data will not identify any individual, and your individual response will not be shared with your university or college.

There are a range of national charities and organisations you can reach out to. Those of particular relevance include:

At the end of the survey, this list of services will be provided again, should you want to talk to someone following the survey. At the end of the survey you will also be able to find details of any support your university has available for you. There are also a number of other organisations and charities that may be able to support you, which can be found here: Help and support – Office for Students.

If you would like support or information from us, please email or call us on 0808 169 9375.

How will my data be stored and used?

The OfS will not be sent your name of contact details, and you will not be identifiable in any results which are published or shared with your university. IFF will send pseudonymised survey responses to the OfS which will be retained indefinitely for use in producing statistical analysis and research into quality and student experience, and trends in higher education. Pseudonymization is a technique that replaces or removes information that identifies an individual. The information will not be used to make any decisions about individuals and any reports the OfS publish will not include individualised data.

The results of the pilot survey will be primarily used for internal analysis. We may publish a summary of our findings aggregated at a high level. The results for each university will be shared in a way that takes steps to ensure the confidentiality of the respondents.

Find out more about data use here.

IFF Research will store all data securely and will confidentially and securely dispose of your personal information and survey responses after the close of the research project.

If you would like to see our full privacy notice you can find it on our website: Privacy policy | IFF Research. You can also access the OfS privacy notice: Privacy notice for the sexual misconduct pilot survey

Is the survey disability accessible?

The survey has been designed to be accessible via a range of devices including mobiles and tablets. It has also been designed with accessibility in mind including for participants using assistive technology or a screen reader. Email us on or call us free on 0800 0147 350 if you need any further assistance.

Where can I go if I have more questions?

If you would like to contact the Office for Students about this research, you can email

If you would like to contact IFF about this research, please email or call us free on 0800 0147 350.