UCLan clamps down on online abuse

The University of Central Lancashire has disciplined or sanctioned 22 students in the last five years for making racist, sexually explicit or homophobic comments on social media.
The University of Central Lancashire has disciplined or sanctioned 22 students in the last five years for making racist, sexually explicit or homophobic comments on social media.
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The University of Central Lancashire has expelled or disciplined more than 20 students for making racist, sexually explicit or homophobic comments on social media.

The Preston-based university was one of 92 higher education institutions, out of more than 130 UK universities and 30 HE colleges, who responded to a Freedom of Information request.

According to the data UCLan, along with the University of Bedford, has disciplined 22 students over the past five years - more than any of the other respondents.

The FOI responses revealed that overall 277 students were sanctioned for this kind of behaviour in the past three years, 104 of them in 2018–19.

Experts say the figures are “very worrying” amid fears that many other cases may be going unreported.

A spokesman for UCLan said: "Whether on-line or off-line, the University of Central Lancashire promotes lawful, open debate, the discussion of varying views and academic freedom and has in place robust procedures to ensure this can take place.

"For the vast majority of our 30,000 students, social media is a positive communication tool but we encourage users to carefully consider post content, conduct themselves in a manner which demonstrates respect for university staff, fellow students and property, and for other members of the local community in general.

"“Whilst not specifically monitoring individual student social media accounts, any potential issues or concerns linked to adverse comments are picked up, taken seriously and acted upon appropriately.

"In the last five years we have taken action in only 22 cases."