According to the study by the National Union of Students, 37 per cent of women said they had experienced some type of unwelcome sexual advances while studying, while 12 per cent of men reported the same thing, according to the survey of more than 2,000 students.
A quarter of all students said they had received unsolicited sexual comments about their bodies, while 36 per cent had witnessed these comments directed at others.
The survey revealed that “harassment is rife on campus”, said Toni Pearce, NUS president, who added that universities are not doing enough to combat so-called lad culture.
“We still keep hearing from universities that there is no fear, no intimidation, no problem – well this new research says otherwise,” said Ms Pearce.
“Sadly, all of these elements exist in campus life, we know because we hear it from students,” she added.
She accused many universities of “passing the buck” on the issue and said they must acknowledge the problem to help the NUS to confront it.
According to the survey, 60 per cent of respondents said that they were not aware of any university codes of conduct that prohibit or tackle sexual conversations, sexual comments, unwelcome sexual advances, group intimidation and verbal harassment.
Ms Pearce said the NUS was setting up a taskforce to look at the issue of lad culture on campus, calling for a “new deal” for students to ensure campuses were safer and more supportive.
The Lad Culture National Strategy Team will include students, academics, representatives from external groups, such as No More Page 3, and NUS officers.
Laura Bates, the founder of the Everyday Sexism project, which details instances of sexual harassment via Twitter, will act as the team’s ambassador.
Ms Bates said the “normalisation and lack of awareness” about sexual harassment “is a major part of the problem”.
“Students, are experiencing sexism, sexual harassment and assault within the university environment,” she said.