Sian Powell, The Australian
Vexed questions concerning “mutual consent” and “prohibition” are being debated in the drafting of a set of Universities Australia principles on voluntary sexual relationships between postgraduate students and their supervisors.
National President of the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations Natasha Abrahams said relationships between students and supervisors should be prohibited, but, “when they do happen, because they will, there needs to be procedures to follow that don’t stigmatise the student or disadvantage them in any way”.
It is understood that certain universities have already had discussions about developing policy concerning student-supervisor relationships, but little if anything has yet been finalised.
Ms Abrahams said that if supervisor-student relationships did happen, and if difficulties arose, universities should have procedures in place to deal with the situation.
“There needs to be ways of removing the student from the supervisor or the supervisor from the student, and ensuring that student’s research isn’t abandoned because of this relationship they have or had,” she said. “The majority of students do not experience very serious issues in their supervision relationships. That’s something I’m aware of: we don’t want to scare potential students.”