The Student Room Group

OfS recommends staff-student relationships be either documented or banned

It has been reported today that the Office for Students (OfS) has recommended that relationships between university staff members and students be either banned, or formally documented where the staff member has a 'responsibility' (my quotes) to the student.

The consultation opened today and you can read the consultation guidance here (be aware this is 90+ pages). If you want to comment, do so here (and please do if you have an interest in these things). A more digestible BBC summary of the consultation is available here.

What do people think of this? It's a topic which comes up frequently during coffee - where is the line between allowing adult students and staff free rein in pursuing romantic/sexual liaisons and protecting students from potentially problematic relationships built on an imbalance of power, where one party could be seen in loco parentis?

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Reply 1
This is already the case in both institutions where I work (and was at the other 2, too). I think a lot of places are ahead of the curve. Personally, I have quite a cut-n-dry take on it, which is if you are teaching a student, don't shag them. Documenting is necessary, though it seems like overstep. I think it is a safeguarding and also potentially a standards issue. It's not much different to other sectors where this type of declaration is required.
Original post by gjd800
This is already the case in both institutions where I work (and was at the other 2, too). I think a lot of places are ahead of the curve. Personally, I have quite a cut-n-dry take on it, which is if you are teaching a student, don't shag them. Documenting is necessary, though it seems like overstep. I think it is a safeguarding and also potentially a standards issue. It's not much different to other sectors where this type of declaration is required.


Yep, completely agree. We have a documentation policy, and have done for ages. You sort of wonder which are the institutions which don't already have policies and procedures in place for this - it's not like it's some new phenomenon!
Just to add that everywhere that I've worked has had a similar policy of declaring these to avoid the possibility of favouritism or other unpleasantness down the line.

Personally I am not a fan of these kind of relationships, but if those involved are adults and there's no marking/grading being done by the participants then I don't really see what can be done about it.

Can't ban horniness.
Reply 4
Original post by Reality Check
Yep, completely agree. We have a documentation policy, and have done for ages. You sort of wonder which are the institutions which don't already have policies and procedures in place for this - it's not like it's some new phenomenon!

I know some Oxon Colleges are very bad at this. Even my own has had numerous recent scandals.
You can't stop these things happening even with legislation. The greater the power imbalance in a relationship the smaller the chance it lasts but it's still a choice individuals have to make for themselves. In any case there's no relationship that doesn't leave scars. Adults will have their own (stupid) choices 😂
Original post by gjd800
I know some Oxon Colleges are very bad at this. Even my own has had numerous recent scandals.

Oh dear... Thinking about this, probably the worst combination I could think of would be a DoS and an undergrad. The DoS is involved so broadly in the student's education throughout their undergrad career: selecting supervisors, arranging college teaching - so much more involvement than a lecturer or module leader would have over an undergrad in a non-collegiate university. Add in the whole power thing, the aura of being a college Fellow, Prof/departmental position and the untouchability of Cambridge (or Oxford) and that's a very dangerous situation I imagine.
Reply 7
Original post by Reality Check
Oh dear... Thinking about this, probably the worst combination I could think of would be a DoS and an undergrad. The DoS is involved so broadly in the student's education throughout their undergrad career: selecting supervisors, arranging college teaching - so much more involvement than a lecturer or module leader would have over an undergrad in a non-collegiate university. Add in the whole power thing, the aura of being a college Fellow, Prof/departmental position and the untouchability of Cambridge (or Oxford) and that's a very dangerous situation I imagine.

Yes, recipes for disasters, I think. There have been a few. We even had a departmental lecturer who was a paedophile - very shocking!
Original post by Reality Check
It has been reported today that the Office for Students (OfS) has recommended that relationships between university staff members and students be either banned, or formally documented where the staff member has a 'responsibility' (my quotes) to the student.

The consultation opened today and you can read the consultation guidance here (be aware this is 90+ pages). If you want to comment, do so here (and please do if you have an interest in these things). A more digestible BBC summary of the consultation is available here.

What do people think of this? It's a topic which comes up frequently during coffee - where is the line between allowing adult students and staff free rein in pursuing romantic/sexual liaisons and protecting students from potentially problematic relationships built on an imbalance of power, where one party could be seen in loco parentis?


No quite frankly it is unprofessional and weird in the teachers side. You go to work to make money and teach students. Not to flirt and get with your students.
Original post by gjd800
We even had a departmental lecturer who was a paedophile - very shocking!

Oh crap... :eek:
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by Reality Check
Oh dear... Thinking about this, probably the worst combination I could think of would be a DoS and an undergrad. The DoS is involved so broadly in the student's education throughout their undergrad career: selecting supervisors, arranging college teaching - so much more involvement than a lecturer or module leader would have over an undergrad in a non-collegiate university. Add in the whole power thing, the aura of being a college Fellow, Prof/departmental position and the untouchability of Cambridge (or Oxford) and that's a very dangerous situation I imagine.


It happens. I'm not advocating for it but if all parties are over 18 then they have to live and learn from their choices. And there's nothing to say it can't work out. Famously there was a professor of surgery at Glasgow that married four of his trainees one after another and the last marriage lasted 😂
they're completely banned at my uni
Original post by Obolinda
they're completely banned at my uni


How do you feel about that? Do you think banning them outright just risks these sorts of relationships becoming secretive and covert - increasing the chances of their becoming problematic? Or do you think the clarity of an outright ban outweighs this risk?
Reply 13
If they are banned, then I imagine some people won't dare cross that line, for fear of dismissal.

Others will obviously be prepared to take a risk, ignore the ban and do it regardless. Some people will even be attracted to flouting a ban, because it makes it seem more exciting.

My father had liaisons with his students over the years. I don't think that the women in question gained any advantage from it. He is so stubborn (and my mother would say so unpleasant) that he would have been unlikely to have let it influence his grading of their work.:grin:

I think that these lecturers seem attractive to students because they are in a position of power.

I think these relationships should be banned outright.
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by Reality Check
X


Right, I’ve just spent the last 10-15 minutes searching through all the Cardiff University policies. Unless I’ve missed something, there is no such policy that prevents university staff members from pursuing any sort of romantic/sexual liaison with a student.

If I happen to be wrong and such a policy does exist, one would’ve hoped it would be quite easy to come across. For now, here I am, searching the depths of the internet to find it and failing to do so.
All in favour of this, given my own experiences, tbh :redface:
Reply 16
That doesn't sound good, TLG. Sorry to hear it.

These types of relationships are unprofessional. There were flirtatious, womanising lecturers when I was at university. Not on, really.
(edited 1 year ago)
Yeah I just assumed this was a nono pretty much full stop, as even if they don't teach/grade that student, one of them could move could move.
One of my uni lecturers was very famously having an affair with one of his PhD students and eventually left his wife and kids for her I think.
Original post by Cote1
That doesn't sound good, TLG. Sorry to hear it.

These types of relationships are unprofessional. There were flirtatious, womanising lecturers when I was at university. Not on, really.


Thank you. It's how/why I developed psychosis :redface:

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