The University of Manchester has ranked as the sixth-best university in the UK for promoting good sexual health on campus, with 61% of students believing that the University offered good access to sexual health services.
Online doctor Zava surveyed 1001 students at 50 universities and analysed each institution’s sexual health services, including: Online support, available hours, accessibility, and location of the facilities. Manchester scored 63.75 out of 100 overall, scoring 25 out of 25 for the ‘quality and access to online information’.
However, 16% of the surveyed students felt the University did not offer adequate sexual health services, citing concerns such as “access to a nurse, free condoms, and STI test kits”. Student Advice in the Students’ Union (SU) does offer support as well as “free contraception like condoms and femidoms”.
Despite the work of the University and SU, 91% of surveyed Manchester students felt “more could be done to promote good sexual health”.
The University of Liverpool topped the table, in part due to a walk-in onsite sexual health service. The University of Manchester currently has no onsite facility, with the nearest clinic, The Hathersage Centre, just under a mile away from campus. In the survey, the University of Manchester scored 10 out of 25 for both the location of clinics and their accessibility.
On average, students have unprotected sex 12 times while at university, with 26% of students in Manchester having had “unprotected sex between one and five times since starting university”. Unprotected sex may lead to the contracting or spreading of an STI, so sexual health education and support can be crucial in preventing sexually transmitted diseases.
Zava’s statistics highlight the importance of demystifying and normalising sexual health checks, as over “1 in 3 (39%) of Manchester students would put off getting checked for an STI due to embarrassment in front of a doctor or nurse”, whilst “33% are worried about being seen by peers”, and 25% wouldn’t get checked due to a “lack of knowledge when it comes to getting tested”.
While the top-ten-ranking demonstrates the majority of students are confident in the University’s sexual health services, some of the results suggest that there are still steps that the University could take to improve access to sexual health services, as well as resources for students to educate themselves on how to protect their sexual health.