A survey is to be carried out into harassment and bullying in higher education institutions, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris has announced.

It comes after the minister wrote to the presidents of institutions requiring action plans to tackle sexual violence and harassment of both staff and students.

The plans will involve putting in place systems that record the number of incidents of bullying, intimidation or harassment, including sexual harassment.

Institutions will be required to report statistics annually to the Higher Education Authority, once the action plans are in place.

Mr Harris announced the survey at an event for the Irish University Association, where he pointed out that a substantial barrier to tackling these issues has been the lack of data indicating the extent of the problem.

He said the survey will begin next year and the Higher Education Authority is working closely with higher education institutions on the issue.

Dr Ross Woods of the HEA Centre of Excellence for Gender Equality said harassment of any description cannot be tolerated in higher education institutions.

He also said the HEA is committed to ensuring that campuses are safe and supportive place for all students and staff.