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Statement on Students Involved in the Adult Sex Industry training session

A Durham University spokesperson said:

“Durham University is a safe place to live, work and study, but we are determined to make it even more so. As a responsible University, we strive to ensure that students who may be vulnerable or at risk are protected and have access to the support to which they are entitled.

“The University brought in the external Students Involved in the Adult Sex Industry session in response to requests received over a number of years from a small number of concerned students.  This is not unique to Durham University, and engagement in sex work, which includes online activities, is a feature within the HE sector across the UK.

“The session was developed and is delivered by external trainers who are experts in delivering support to those engaged in sex work.

“The decision to provide this support was made following consultation with student representatives, members of the University’s Sexual Misconduct and Violence Operations Group, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Unit, Counselling and Mental Health Service and safeguarding representatives.

“We are emphatically not seeking to encourage sex work but we are seeking to provide support to our students. We don’t judge, we listen, support and give practical help.  We run many courses for students and staff on topics from mental health and wellbeing to drug and alcohol awareness.

“The intent here is to ensure that social stigma does not prevent students who might be vulnerable or at risk from accessing the support they need and to which they are entitled.

“Staff and students took part in a one hour session to understand the challenges and obstacles that students involved in sex work might struggle to overcome when wishing to seek support.

“It teaches them how those stigmas can be overcome to ensure that any affected student can receive appropriate support and feel comfortable in requesting it.

“We make no apologies for working to ensure that Durham is a safe environment for all of our students and staff. We are extremely disappointed by the way the intentions for, and content of, this session have been misinterpreted.”