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University of Kent students offered £300 payments amid fallout of investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against professor

A group of University of Kent students who had complaints upheld against a professor accused of sexual misconduct were offered £300 payments amid the fallout of the investigation.

In May last year, the seven women handed over a dossier of evidence to support allegations the academic had engaged in inappropriate behaviour, including sending them unsolicited messages and pictures and making misogynistic and sexually suggestive comments.

The University of Kent campus in Canterbury
The University of Kent campus in Canterbury

They also accused him of contacting them out of hours and staring at their bodies.

The allegations triggered an investigation that upheld three of five complaints, with UKC saying “appropriate action has been taken to address the behaviours and prevent any reoccurrence”.

But Times Higher Education (THE) reports the students involved have accused the university of a lack of transparency in its inquiry and over the measures taken since.

They were even offered £300 payments after a probe into the handling of the first set of complaints was partially upheld, which the student said “felt like it was their way of saying ‘shut up and go away’”.

One told THE: “We’re in a worse position now than we were when we put the complaint in.

“For a lot of us, if we had to go back and bring the complaint again, I’m not sure that we would.”

The student said early in her studies she had been warned about the professor, including not to go into his office or wear certain items of clothing around him.

“If any of us were going to be alone with him, the first thing we would do is text the group chat,” she said.

“It was a constant background worry all the time.”

The University of Kent’s Medway campus in Chatham
The University of Kent’s Medway campus in Chatham

UKC suspended the professor while he was under investigation, but the student said they had been told on several occasions he was going to be allowed back on to campus, only for circumstances to change at the last minute.

He is now on restricted duties and is not allowed to interact with students or visit either of UKC’s campuses in Canterbury or Medway.

The students have sent UKC a list of proposed remedies, asking for extensions to their studies, a formal apology, and a written agreement that the professor will not contact or interact with them.

A spokesperson for UKC told KentOnline: “We fully acknowledge and are truly sorry for the distress and upset caused to our students by both what they have been through and the subsequent investigatory process.

“We take all allegations of staff misconduct very seriously and have taken steps throughout this investigation to ensure that the students' wellbeing and ongoing safety, including safeguarding, remains an absolute priority.

“We have also made changes and are committed to making further changes to a number of our policies and procedures as a result of their feedback and proposals.

“We will continue to keep them updated on these changes and all other relevant developments as the case progresses and welcome an open ongoing dialogue with them throughout.

“This includes working with them to put clear measures in place to make sure they feel safe and supported while they complete their studies.”

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