Cork Institute of Technology has confirmed it had eight complaints relating to issues such as bullying and harassment over a three-year period, having earlier said there were none.
Responding to a Freedom of Information request from the Irish Examiner to all publicly-funded third levels institutions, CIT was alone in stating it had had no complaints relating to bullying in the three-year period 2013 to 2015, inclusive.
A number of people associated with CIT, afterwards, contacted this newspaper expressing surprise at the response.
CIT has since said its initial FoI response was correct according to how the request was phrased, with particular reference to the term “bullying”.
“Bullying is a distinct matter in of itself, as defined in our relevant policies,” the college said. “Therefore, cases of harassment, isolated instances of verbal or physical assaults, or other matters falling outside relevant definitions of ‘bullying’ were not considered for the purposes of the request.”
Information subsequently provided by CIT show that regarding complaints received by CIT about bullying, harassment, stress and violence, it received eight complaints between the academic years 2012/13 and 2014/15 and had two complaints dating from the previous two academic years.
In relation to the 10 complaints received over that five-year period, three related to physical assault, two to sexual harassment, four to bullying/harassment, and one to verbal abuse.
Five complaints were made by women and five by men, while staff lodged five of the complaints and students also lodged five complaints. CIT said three complaints had been upheld and two had been rejected.
The college also said informal approaches/processes, or “instances when issues presented were deemed to fall outside the scope of the relevant policies at the outset”, would have put certain cases outside the realm of the FoI request.
FoI requests to the 21 main publicly funded third-level colleges found that more than 200 cases of bullying or harassment were formally investigated over the three-year period.
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