A TOTAL of 167 students at Oxford University used its sexual harassment support service in one year, a figure that is more than the university expected.

Launching the Sexual Violence and Harassment Service in October 2018, Oxford University forecasted somewhere in the region of 50 students that would seek support in the first year.

But by the end of August 2019, the figure rose by 117, with over 65 seeking support in the first academic term alone.

A report into the service shows the majority of users during the 2018-2019 academic year were female and that most students looked for support at least six months after an incident or experience had happened.

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It states: "The largest individual group of students seeking support are 2nd year undergraduates coming to speak about an incident of rape or sexual assault that happened in or around fresher’s week the previous year."

In collaboration with Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre (OSARCC), students can go to a dedicated Independent Sexual Violence Advisor who is seconded to the university to support them.

The Sexual Violence and Harassment Service also supports those who have been accused of sexual harassment or violence and it helped nine in these instances last year.

Oxford University publishes annual statistics for other Student Welfare and Support Services such as its Counselling service and Disability Advisory (DAS).

The findings reveal an increase in demand for the counselling service, which is now used by 12.1 per cent of the student population, and an increase in the number of students declaring a disability. These students now represent 18 per cent of the undergraduate student body.

Feedback from students has been largely positive for both services, with 95 per cent of students rating their experience of using the counselling service as very good/good and 90 per cent of students reporting that the support arranged for them by the DAS has been helpful.

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Gillian Hamnett, director of Student Welfare and Support Services, said: "We are pleased and heartened to see such high levels of satisfaction from students using our welfare and support services. Supporting the wellbeing, safety and mental health of all of our students is always a key priority for the University.

"The user response to our Sexual Violence and Harassment Service is equally encouraging to see. The University continues to work in collaboration with local services like OSARCC to provide support to anyone affected by these incidents.

"There is always room for improvement and student feedback continues to be vital to the effectiveness of our services."