Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, or an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure another person. Bullying may happen in public or in private. Bullying may occur through many different forms, including written communications, visual images, email, phone, social networking websites, etc. 

Examples of bullying behaviours include: 
  • shouting 
  • threatening 
  • intimidating 
  • insulting 
  • ridiculing 
  • destructively criticising 
  • ostracising or ignoring 
  • humiliating and undermining a person so that their confidence and self-esteem is destroyed 
  • withholding relevant information 
  • treating a person differently from others.   
In the University context, there could be occasions where someone perceives that they are in a position of power and could then use that power to threaten or bully others. 

Legitimate, reasonable and constructive criticism of performance or behaviour, or reasonable instructions given to staff in the course of their employment or to students as part of their studies, will not amount to bullying on their own. 

Make a disclosure 

It takes great courage to disclose experiences of bullying. Everyone who has experienced this deserve to be listened to, supported and believed. What has happened is not your fault and you are not alone. Your safety and wellbeing are the most important things right now. 

Make a disclosure to the University

Use the Report and Support system to disclose a bullying incident to the University of St Andrews. You can choose to do this anonymously or you can request support from an adviser

Staff members can also make disclosures to: 

Informal actions you could take 

If you are experiencing bullying that you believe is not a serious or criminal offense, you may want to consider the following informal options: 
  • Discuss the problem with the person causing the offence – this should comprise giving one or more concrete examples of the unacceptable behaviour and agreeing how behaviour will change in the future. You may not be confident doing this alone and can request support from some other person such as a trusted member of staff, a friend, a Student Services adviser (for students), or HR (for staff). 
  • Write to the person causing the offence, outlining the unacceptable behaviour, with examples, and asking for a change in behaviour. You may want to have someone read over this letter so as not to escalate the situation. 
  • See other support options listed below.  
If this is a serious or criminal offence, you can consider formal disclosure options which are outlined above. 


University support

If you would like additional support, there are many resources available for both students and staff. Please see the how to get support page for more information. 

External support 

If someone you know is experiencing bullying 

If you know someone who has experienced or is experiencing bullying, you can help in the following ways: 
  • Listen. Taking the time to listen and talk about what has happened can help.  
  • Signpost options. Ask them if they’re okay to talk through some possible options for support or how they might make a disclosure for what has happened. Do not take on the role of a counsellor or therapist. 
  • Help them make a disclosure. If they want to, and you feel able to, you can help them disclose the incident or incidents. 



There are two ways you can tell us what happened