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whistleblowing at UiB

Speak up about bullying, harassment and sexual harassment – perpetrated by employees

There is no place for bullying, harassment and sexual harassment at the UiB. Here you can read about how to report matters if you are the victim of bullying, harassment and sexual harassment perpetrated by an employee.

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The working and learning environment at the UiB shall be completely acceptable. This means that students and employees, etc. shall not be subjected to harassment or any other types of improper conduct.

Would you like to report bullying, harassment and sexual harassment – perpetrated by students?

Checklist for students reporting bullying, harassment and sexual harassment

  • Support and guidance available
    If you have any doubts about having the courage or wanting to report a case, you can obtain advice and guidance from the Counselling Service in Sammen and legal assistance from the UiB's Student Ombudsman, a student representative or a union if you are a member, etc. You can make your own decision about who you would like to talk to.
  • Check the facts, be as precise and as specific as possible.
    The threshold for speaking up is not high, but it is a good idea to be sure about what has happened. Who said or did what, where and when? You should also think about whether or not there might have been a misunderstanding. Maybe you misunderstood something that someone else said, or maybe someone else has misunderstood you? If you think that a follow-up question might clarify the matter, you should consider it. In this way some cases can be resolved quickly and painlessly, but if this is not the case then you will have a better basis for speaking up.
  • Adopt a factual, moderate approach.
    When you report to us, it is best to be as unbiased as possible. You can then explain how the incident has affected you, e.g. whether or not you felt personally violated or if the incident affected you, etc. It helps to get such matters on the right track right from the start.
  • If you wish to remain anonymous, please let us know immediately and explain why to the best of your ability.
    If you are afraid of retaliation or are otherwise worried that others might learn who you are, you need to tell us. Please be aware that we can never guarantee you anonymity and that if you remain anonymous it may be difficult for us to follow up your case.
  • We will inform you about what is happening about your case, but you are not always entitled to all the information.
    Cases vary considerably and consequently the rights and obligations of the university to provide you with information also vary. If you yourself are a party to the matter, you are basically entitled to receive information, but not necessarily information about other people. As a general rule you will be informed about any developments relating to your case and about our conclusions once it has been completed.
  • Read the UiB’s Reporting Guidelines
  • What you should know before reporting an incident

NB: it is also possible to report verbally or in writing to your supervisor, the faculty’s learning environment contact or the department’s or faculty’s administration office, etc.

What are bullying and harassment?

Harassment can occur in many different ways, with bullying and sexual harassment being the most well-known examples. Harassment usually involves actions that are repeated over time, but serious individual events can also be defined as harassment.

Sexual harassment can be both physical, verbal and non-verbal (body language) and can include everything from sexual comments to unwanted touching and rape. For something to be defined as sexual harassment, the attention must be unwanted.

Students and supervisors: an asymmetrical relationship

There is a thin line between sexual harassment and the exploitation of an asymmetrical relationship, such as that which exists between a teacher and a student or between a manager and an employee, in order to initiate a flirt or a sexual relationship.

Consequently the UiB has developed ethical guidelines on relationships between students and supervisors.

What one party perceives as being voluntary might be perceived by the other party as being difficult to reject due to the asymmetry in the power relationship.

You can also read more about this on the website of the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority or in the Norwegian Gender Equality Act and the Norwegian Anti-discrimination Act

Rights and obligations of UiB employees

  • All employees are entitled to be treated with respect and dignity and to have a working environment free from bullying, harassment and discrimination.
  • Employees who learn that other employees have bullied or harassed students are obliged to report this to their immediate line manager.
  • Any abuses of power will not be tolerated.
  • Employees have the right to complain about managers and other employees if they feel that they are being subjected to bullying or any other forms of unacceptable behaviour.
  • All employees have an obligation to treat others in accordance with these standards and values.
  • The relationship between students and employees is asymmetrical. Employees have a responsibility to ensure that they do not abuse their position of power.

The Norwegian Working Environment Act  is also clear on how whoever reports an incident shall be protected against retaliation from an employer.

The UiB takes you seriously

  • We would like you to speak out if you have discovered any questionable practices that might be detrimental to the UiB or any individuals at the UiB. Cases relating to questionable practices shall protect you as a student and ensure that your report will be dealt with.
  • What happens when you have reported something? All sensitive documents relating to the matter are exempt from public disclosure and cases will be treated in confidence. This means that your name will not be known to any more people than is necessary for the further processing of your case.
  • Unsure about what to do? Unsure about your rights? The ombud for students is an independent support person who is tasked with providing students at the University of Bergen with legal assistance in respect of matters relating to their study situation.