University gets D grade for sexual health provision

Oxford University has scored 3 D’s in a Sexual Health report card published online.

The report card is based on research conducted by dred.com – an online doctor service – in conjunction with the Superdrug Online Doctor Service. They assessed and ranked 50 universities, using a combination of research methods, including mystery shopping, web research and an online survey.

The study was conducted between January and March of this year.
The report card grades the universities on a number of topics, including sexual health information found on campus, access to contraceptives and sexual assault service.

Out of 50 universities studied, Oxford came 25th, behind Cambridge (6th), UCL (10th) and Durham (19th). Bristol University came first, scoring 80 points out of a maximum of 100, despite getting a “D” for its sexual assault service. Cardiff University came last, scoring only 38, a “fail” grade.

Oxford scored 3 D grades in the areas, “sexual health clinic services on or near campus”, “clinic drop-in availability”, and,“sexual health information on website”.

However, it also scored an A grade for sexual health events and STI testing and B grades for categories including, “sexual health information found on campus” and “access to contraceptives”.

The largest area of criticism was over the availability of sexual health clinics to students. In order to receive a full range of sexual health services, students currently have to go to the Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM) Clinic at the Churchill Hospital, near Headington, which is two miles’ walk from Oxford City Centre.

The company said, “with STI infection rates on the increase and public funding for essential services being cut, the Sexual Health Report Card aims to raise awareness of the importance of student sexual health.” 

A survey by Cherwell C+ in March found, “Only 61% of Oxford students always ensure that they or their partners wear protection during sex.” But it also found that only one in 20 Oxford students have contracted an STI, lower than the national average of around one in four.

Simon Lea, business development manager for Superdrug Online Doctor, commented on the report, “This comprehensive Report Card shows that for students specifically, many of whom will be in the ‘most at risk’ group for contracting STIs, access to relevant, up-to–date information can be hit or miss.

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“Only through a combination of service innovation, and people willing to try something new to tackle these problems, will we be able to reduce the rate of STI infections on University campuses.”

A University of Oxford spokesperson said in response to the news, “We note the findings of this survey and would like to make students aware that information and advice on sexual health is readily available at college level through college doctors and nurses.

“Clinical services, including drop-in servicesw, are available locally through the NHS. Further information can be found at www.sexualhealthoxfordshire.nhs.uk.”

Colum McGuire, NUS Vice-President for Welfare, said, “NUS represents seven million students UK wide, and sexual health is a reality that each needs to be aware of.

“We recognise the importance of providing easy to understand, accessible information like the sexual health report card to safeguard sexual health.”