1. ITV Report

Parties at University of Cambridge 'aimed at taking sexual advantage of women'

Victoria says she was assaulted in her second week at Cambridge Photo: ITV

Victoria was thrilled when she won a place at the University of Cambridge.

A state school student, she had set her heart going to the prestigious institution at the age of 14, and spent the next few years working hard to get her grades.

Like many teenagers, her first weeks at university were the first ever time she had been away from home, and she arrived without any friends, nervous about whether she would fit in.

In her second week, she and other fresher women were invited out by a group of older male students.

Things took a turn for the worse when Victoria was told off by the men organising the party for not dressing sexily enough and she also felt uncomfortable about how much everyone was expected to drink.

Despite her reservations she still stayed at the party, because she wanted to make friends.

"It's difficult when you are in a situation when you are in a group of people you've only just met and you really want to make some friends and you are really scared and you just want to have fun - to then leave that."

– Victoria
A recent survey revealed worrying levels of sexual assault at Cambridge Credit: ITV

Later that evening, Victoria says she was sexually assaulted by one of the older students.

We were at the club and we were dancing and I was suddenly really aware of someone behind me who started to touch me very, very initimately, which I found made me extremely uncomfortable and it only got worse. And when I turned round to confront that person and ask them to stop I actually got in trouble with the bouncer. I said to him this guy was groping me and he said, no you're out, you're drunk, you shouldn't have been shouting.

The environment was not a safe one, it wasn't to me a neutral, fun environment, it was very much aimed towards a specific thing. I think that particular party and others are aimed towards taking sexual advantage of the women there, through alcohol."

– Victoria

Victoria didn't report what happened - at the time she didn't realise it was a crime.

Cambridge University Students Union say her experience is far from unusual. They organised an online survey of 2,100 students and found 213 of those surveyed had experienced rape or attempted rape by penetration. 28.5% said they had been sexually assaulted and 85 % of those assaults took place on student nights out or in college.

The Student Union believe this is linked to a sexist drinking culture and say that more needs to be done to tackle the problem.

Lauren Steele Credit: ITV

We'd really like to see compulsory consent workshops for freshers arriving and also a zero tolerance to sexual harrassment policy that is really clear on the college website, and that any student can access very easily.

– Lauren Steele, Cambridge University Students Union

The problems outlined by the CUSU survey are not unique to Cambridge. Last year a survey by the National Union of Students found broadly simillar attitudes and behaviour across universities in the UK.

The city's MP, Julian Huppert, told ITV News that while Cambridge University needs to take steps to ensure its students are safe, he believes it has among the better policies on sexual assault, and was not to blame for a wider cultural problem.

In 2012 the university put a video on Youtube warning new students about drinking too much Credit: University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge say they are looking into the survey's findings.

“The collegiate University is committed to the welfare and safety of all its members, and expects all members of its community to treat each other with respect and consideration at all times, and to act within the law.

“Where behaviour falls short of this expectation, there are well-established reporting procedures for both staff (Dignity@Work) and students (Dignity@Study). Criminal behaviour should be reported to the police.

“Colleges and central services work closely together to direct students to appropriate sources of help. The level of support available to students at the University of Cambridge is unparalleled in most other universities.

“The University Counselling Service, which includes counsellors as well as mental health advisors, supplements the support available to students from the wider staff base and college staff such as tutors, college nurses and chaplains.”

"The health and wellbeing committee is currently examining the impact of rape and sexual assaults on students in Cambridge. Its members have been meeting with student representatives, and internal and external parties working in this area. They will also take into consideration the findings of the recent survey."

– University of Cambridge

Victoria nearly left Cambridge after what happened to her - but happily made new friends and is now enjoying her course. But she fears university culture hasn't changed and still leaves new students at risk.