Student Advice

What to Do About Bullying at University

Ben Maples  · Jul 22nd 2021

Bullying at university is an issue that affects a huge number of people. Universities up and down the country will have students who are experiencing bullying and are experiencing some sort of harassment, while at university.

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It’s an unfortunate problem that every single university in the world will have on campus and a growing number of people have come forward about their experiences from being bullied.

We have compiled a guide to help you, or anyone you know that is experiencing bullying. This guide will help you with what to do when this happens, how best to overcome this and some useful contacts for you to speak to if things are becoming overwhelming for you.

Bullying at university

What is Bullying?

You’d be surprised just how many people go to university and are either unaware of what bullying can entail and whether or not what they are doing actually constitutes bullying.

Bullying at university is general behaviour that is carried out with the sole purpose of hurting others. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it is just physical harm, mental harm is also included. Plenty of students have complained of experiencing various mental health issues at university, many of which are a direct result of bullying or even from sexual harassment or rape at university.

Bullying can include, but is not limited to:

  • Cyberbullying
  • Social and emotional bullying
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Sexual harassment
  • Name-calling
  • Discrimination
  • Racism
  • LGBTQ+ Discrimination

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is a form of bullying where people are bullied by text, email, chat rooms, social media sites or any other form of electronic device or interaction. Cyberbullying can also be known as “Trolling”. Social media sites are full of people trolling or otherwise engaging in Cyberbullying.

A report by ABC News found that Cyberbullying affects 1 in 10 students, so if you or anyone you know experiences Cyberbullying, you must report it!

Anti-bullying campaigns are open to everyone.

What is the difference between Cyberbullying and Bullying?

There is no difference at all. Cyberbullying and bullying are one in the same and both is equally unacceptable. If you or anyone you know have experienced Cyberbullying or Bullying, we urge you to report this immediately.

Bullying at uni

Who can I speak to if I have experienced bullying at university?

Your Student Union are there to help students that are struggling with any issues at university. Whether you’re struggling with general exam tips or you’re dealing with any mental health issues, or if you’re struggling with bullying at university, your Student Union can help you to sort things out.

As your Student Union is there to represent the best interests of the student body, they are able to make recommendations towards anti-bullying campaigns for the university as well. The National Union of Students (NUS) also has a number of articles on their site for dealing with bullying at university, as well as dealing with bullying in halls at university. You can speak to your tutor. Your tutor will have training in helping students that are experiencing bullying and can make some suggestions on how to combat this.

Your friends and family are also there to help you. With friends and family, you are never alone and you will always have someone to talk to. Your friends will be able to help you with reporting bullying, as you will now have someone who can vouch for your story and someone who may even be able to point out other instances of bullying.

The police are always at your disposal too. Speaking to the police will mean that you will be able to look at anti-bullying initiatives that they may run and potentially meet other people who have experienced similar issues. You also may not be aware of just how serious the offences that the bully is committing are and as a result, the police can caution them or speak to them in a capacity that can potentially stop them.

We have also listed some useful contact information for you at the bottom of the article if you or anyone you know is having issues with bullying.

The university will be able to help you if you go to the police as well.

University Campaigns

There are a number of different campaigns that universities will run, and these will most likely encompass everything from sexual harassment to bullying.

Many universities, such as Staffordshire University have backed the campaign by No Bystanders, which have launched an anti-bullying campaign called “Hear It, Stop It” which is aimed at dealing with bullying in all its forms.

Anti-bullying campaigns are open to everyone. These campaigns do not discriminate against anyone due to colour, race, creed, sexual orientation, ethnic background or religious views.

The #NoBystanders campaign is also there for LGBT students that are experiencing bullying at university too. The research by #NoBystanders has found that a staggering 45% of LGBT students are bullied due to their sexual orientation.

Outside of university, 1 in 5 people have admitted to making offensive remarks about LGBT people and what’s even worse, is that while 30% of people have heard offensive remarks to or about LGBT people, a staggering 63% did nothing about it. This is the kind of behaviour that #NoBystanders is trying to stop and we cannot be clearer here if you witness any kind of bullying, whether regardless of its context, you must report it.

The StandUp Foundation, founded by former Rugby Union player Ben Cohen, has also been incredibly useful in helping those who have experienced bullying.


What if bullying took place off of the university campus?

You still need to report this. Your university has a duty of care for you and for other students and is therefore required to keep you and others safe and if you or anyone you know has experienced bullying off-site, then you will need to report this to the university.

If your experiences with bullying have included someone who does not go to university, you should still inform them. The university will be able to help you if you go to the police as well. As a member of the university, you will, of course, be protected by the rules and regulations of the university too.

Bullying at university is general behaviour that is carried out with the sole purpose of hurting others.

Important contacts to have

We mentioned earlier in the article that we had a number of contacts for you to contact if you find yourself struggling with experiences of bullying at university.

These numbers and websites below are all free-to-call, unless stated and will be able to provide support and advice for those experiencing bullying.

Issue Helpline Telephone Number
Mental Health Issues in General Mind 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)
Panic Attacks/OCD No Panic! 0844 967 4848 (daily, 10am-10pm)
Suicide PAPYRUS 0800 068 4141 (Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm & 7-10pm. Weekends 2-5pm)
General Samaritans 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)
Rape Rape Crisis 0808 802 9999
Bullying National Bullying Helpline 0845 22 55 787
Workplace Bullying ACAS 0300 123 1100
Child Abuse NSPCC 0808 800 5000 or 0800 1111 5000
Rape and Sexual Assault Victim Support 0808 802 9999
Anti-Prejudice/Bullying Ditch the Label 01273 201129
Bully Advice BullyBusters 0800 169 6928
Cyberbullying Help The Cybersmile Foundation 02035 983 898

If you know anyone else who is suffering from these issues, then we urge you to share these numbers with them too. Remember, these companies will have a number of different specialities and may be able to help you if you’re struggling with any other issues as well.

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