New Australian guidelines say sexual or romantic relationships between academic supervisors and their students are "never appropriate."
Groups representing Australian universities as well as academics and students developed the guidelines following a survey last year of 30,000 students that found postgraduate students were more likely than undergraduate students to have been experienced sexually harassment by a lecturer or tutor, Nature News reports.
The new guidelines lay out principles for respectful, professional relationships between supervisors and students. The guidelines say such a relationship should be built on respect and trust as well as have clear mentorship and supervision expectations.
"These principles make it clear — if a university academic is supervising a student, then they should not be in a romantic or sexual relationship with that student. It's a clear conflict of interest," Catriona Jackson, the chief executive of Universities Australia, says in a statement. "Universities understand that supervisors have power over their students. A sexual or romantic relationship that develops in that context also raises questions about capacity for consent and academic integrity."
The guidelines also say that students who report sexual harassment or assault should be supported and treated with compassion by staff.