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Third-level classes in consent will not yet be mandatory

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Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris (PA)

Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris (PA)

Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris (PA)

Consent classes for freshers at third-level will not be made mandatory yet, despite an upsurge in sex assault allegations among students.

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris admitted there has been an 'epidemic' of sex cases and described consent classes as "a very sensible idea from where I stand".

After a meeting with the National Advisory Committee on the issue, Mr Harris told the Irish Independent: "One of the things that was raised consistently was the issue of compulsory consent classes.

"I believe they should now form part of orientation for the new academic year. I have asked the NAC to come back to me with ideas how best to do this. The data shows people who take these classes are more informed and more aware of how to support and help their peers."

He announced four measures, with all institutions having to put in place an action plan on sexual harassment, with the Higher Education Authority monitoring implementation of a 'framework' on sexual consent.

There will also be an annual survey of both students and staff, as well as a research project to gauge sexual harassment at their level.

Orla O'Connor, director of the National Women's Council, said: "Women aged 18-29 are most likely to experience sexual harassment and violence, and many will be students less likely to report these crimes."

Irish Independent