Part of the university experience is the friendships and relationships that you’ll make along the way. Whether it’s living in halls, going on nights out, taking part in society events and lectures or anything in-between, you’ll be interacting with a whole host of interesting and varied people from all sorts of backgrounds. When it comes to those interactions, understanding consent is everyone’s responsibility.


In its most simplified form, consent is all about respecting the boundaries and bodily autonomy of others. It’s not exclusive to sexual consent either, you should be seeking consent before you interact with another person in any way that would impact on their personal boundaries (e.g. instigating a hug, or a kiss).




Consent is comfortable

A clear “yes”, smiles, responsiveness, reciprocity of affection, “Yes, please”, “Keep going”, etc all indicate consent.  Conversely: “no”, silence, stillness and rigidity, no eye contact, flinching, phrases like “I am not sure”, “I don’t like that”, “Please stop” imply that consent is vanishing, or it’s not present at all.

Consent is freely given

Someone who has been threatened, blackmailed or coerced is not free to consent.

Consent is retractable

Consent can be withdrawn at any point if one of the two parties changes their mind or feels uncomfortable. Crucially, consent to one action is not consent to all actions, so if you want to try something new make sure you get consent.

Consent is active

 All people in a sexual situation must feel that they are able to say "yes" or "no" or stop the sexual activity at any point.

Someone who is unconscious, asleep or unable to communicate cannot give consent.

Equally, alcohol and drugs can significantly impact on someone’s capacity to understand what is happening around them and consent.

Finally, consent should always be clear

If you are ever in any doubt about having someone’s consent, you should stop and ask if they are alright.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual misconduct, you can fin out about the resources available to you here. 

Talk to us about what respect and safety at university mean to you:

We are working with the university to develop a mechanism (website, app or something else!) for students to use to report incidents of harassment, hate crime and sexual violence. Have your say on the reporting tool and talk to us about what respect and safety at university mean to you. By filling out the 20 minute survey you will also get a chance to enter a prize draw for one of three £50 Love to Shop vouchers and when you get involved in the focus groups, you will be provided with a free lunch.

Find out more and get involved here.