News story

New course released to support 1 in 7 student survivors of sexual assault

London, UKLearning NewsMarshall E-Learning

A new online course has been released as a response to the need for universities to increase awareness of issues surrounding students’ experiences of unwanted sexual incidents.

Opening screen of the Student Disclosure course
Opening screen of the Student Disclosure course 

With at least 1 in 7 women students (14%) being the victim of serious sexual assault or serious physical violence while at university or college (Hidden Marks, NUS 2010), the course has been designed to equip university employees with the necessary tools and knowledge to effectively support a student who discloses an experience of an unwanted sexual incident.

Developed in partnership by Coventry University and Rape Crisis England & Wales, and designed by Marshall E-Learning, the aim of the Student Disclosure of Unwanted Sexual Incidents course is to provide university employees with the confidence to appropriately respond to a disclosure of an unwanted sexual incident by a student, and signpost a student to sources of assistance.

The release of the course is timely, and is featured as a case study in ‘Changing the Culture’ (2016), a report produced by the Universities UK Taskforce which examined violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students.

Dianne Whitfield, Co Chair of Rape Crisis England & Wales, commented on why the course was an important step in improving support for student survivors of sexual assault:

“Women students have the right to study and live in a safe and respectful environment. Unfortunately, as local Rape Crisis Centres know too well, sexual harassment, sexual assaults and rape, both on and off campus, are significant problems that all universities are grappling with. Abuse via social media is a growing problem too. We therefore welcome the release of this course, and would urge all institutions to follow the lead of universities like Coventry.”

Dr Jane Osmond, Research Fellow at Coventry University also commented on two key aspects of the course that make it unique in the field:

“The first is that we worked closely with Rape Crisis England and Wales to ensure that the course offers employees information in a sensitive and practical manner.  Second is the option for universities to upload a bespoke ‘pathway for students document’ which university employees need to download before they complete the course. This ensures that all employees have detailed knowledge of the support routes – which include external sources of help, such as Rape Crisis - that they can signpost students to.”

David Marshall, Founder and Managing Director at Marshall E-Learning Consultancy, also commented:

“This is a deep-rooted problem that has long been swept under the carpet. This course will help educate university employees and brings the guidance up to date with current standards. We would urge all universities to ensure that all survivors have access to support.”

The course costs £25.00 per person, or a an institutional site licence is available on request. Further details of the course can be found on the Marshall E-Learning website at

About the course

The online Student Disclosure of Unwanted Sexual Incidents course gives employees the opportunity to explore what an unwanted sexual incident looks like, the type of disclosures students may encounter, and appropriate responses to disclosure. The course has 4 units which are followed by an assessment that tests knowledge on some of the issues raised during the course:

1 Introduction

2 An unwanted sexual incident:

  • What constitutes an unwanted sexual incident?
  • Who is a ‘typical’ perpetrator?

3 Disclosure of a sexual incident:

  • What is a disclosure?
  • What are the non-verbal signs you need to pay attention to?
  • What are the potential barriers to disclosure?

4 Appropriate responses to disclosure:

  • When reporting is necessary
  • How students may approach you
  • The emotional impact on students
  • Grounding techniques for dealing with disclosure
  • The emotional impact of disclosure on employees

5 Assessment


About Rape Crisis England & Wales:

Rape Crisis England & Wales is the national umbrella body for a network of autonomous Rape Crisis Centres across England and Wales. The charity also raise awareness and understanding of sexual violence in the wider community and with local, regional and national government. Rape Crisis currently have 44 member organisations, providing services in 56 locations across England and Wales.


About Coventry University:

Coventry University has a long tradition as a provider of education with roots that go as far back as Coventry College of Design in 1843: in 1987 the name changed to Coventry Polytechnic and in 1992 the University was set up under UK Government legislation. This course was developed in response to the need for all universities to develop clear and robust pathways of support for students who experience unwanted sexual incidents. For more information contact Dr Jane Osmond, [email protected]



NUS (2010) Hidden Marks.  Available online:

UUK (2016) Changing the Culture: Report of the Universities UK Taskforce examining violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students. Available online: