More than 1 in 4 university students in New Zealand say they've experienced at least one form sexual assault during their studies, new research shows.
It comes after AUT has been the centre of a stalking scandal with the university investigating fewer than a third of sexual harassment allegations made against it.
The University of Otago also made headlines late last year after former students came forward alleging sexual assaults and rape went under the radar.
Today, research published in the New Zealand Medical Journal also revealed nearly 15 per cent of the 1540 students surveyed said they had been raped while at university. That equates to 229 people.
Of the 431 students who said they had been sexually assaulted, nearly one third told no one about the ordeal and 93 per cent did not disclose it to a health professional.
"It's really concerning, it's also nothing new. The issue is really being brought to light and it's encouraging universities to take action and do something about it," said Melanie Beres, lead author and associate professor at Te Whare Tāwharau, University of Otago.
Researchers said non-disclosure was likely related to feelings of shame, uncertainty about how it would be handled and concerns about secondary traumatisation - when a victim experiences trauma again because of something not related to the assault.
In the survey, sexual assault was classified as non-consensual sexual contact or attempted sexual contact.
The study aimed to replicate and expand on similar rresearch conducted in 1991 that surveyed sexual assault victimisation and perpetration at universities in New Zealand.
"Surprisingly, little is known about how common it is for university students to experience sexual assault, particularly in New Zealand, and whether they disclose these experiences to health professionals," researchers said.
The survey showed a high number of alcohol-related assaults, which researchers said was concerning because victims were more likely to be distressed and blame themselves.
It may also prevent them telling a health professional and could prompt victim blaming, researchers said.
As a result of the study, researchers were calling for more assistance to clinicians and other support providers to recognise potential warning signals around sexual assault and to open up conversations that may help university students talk.
"It would also be helpful to work with the student community in making them more aware of relevant health services that can support victims of sexual assaults."
• The research was done by Melanie Beres, Associate Professor at Te Whare Tāwharau; Zoran Stojanov, Assistant Research Fellow at Te Whare Tāwharau; Katie Graham, Assistant Research Fellow at Te Whare Tāwharau; and Dunedin, Gareth Treharne, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology all of University of Otago.