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Inappropriate relationships

Universities Australia, an association representing the leaders of higher education institutions in the country, has released a document titled “Principles for Respectful Supervisory Relationships,” aimed at master’s and PhD supervisors and students. The first rule in the list summarizes the spirit of the document, noting that “sexual or romantic relationships between supervisors and students are never appropriate.” The text states there is an obvious imbalance of power in such relationships, which compromises the atmosphere needed for students to achieve their academic goals. “Supervisors have power over their students. A sexual or romantic relationship developed in this context raises serious questions about academic consent and integrity,” said Catriona Jackson, president of the association, when the document was released. The guidelines also suggest replacing individual supervisors with panels formed of several teachers, and asks institutions to be supportive of students that file complaints. In 2017, a survey of 30,000 students at Australian universities found that graduate students are twice as likely as undergraduates to be harassed by supervisors and teachers.