Campaigners level criticism at UK universities over use of non-disclosure agreements

Gender equality campaigners have raised concerns about the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) when dealing with sexual harassment at academic institutions.

One lawyer told the Guardian newspaper universities are using the agreements – which prevent victims talking about their experiences – to ‘protect their own reputations’. This potentially puts other students at risk by enabling staff who are the subject of complaints to move to new institutions without any scrutiny.

The practice could also be hiding the true extent of the problem of harassment, campaigners argue. Anecdotal evidence suggests sexual harassment cases involving university staff and students could be on the increase, but NDAs could be distorting the official data. While it is known that NDAs are often part of settlements there are no figures on their usage among universities, according to Universities UK.