Three of the country’s leading universities have been placed at the top of a league table of crime hotspots.
The Complete University Guide used official police figures to measure rates of violent and sexual offences, burglaries and robberies within three miles of campuses across England and Wales.
King’s College London, the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and University College London (UCL) had the highest rates of crime in their areas, according to the report.
Researchers found 47.65 crime incidents were reported per 1,000 residents around King’s College London – rated 16th in the world university rankings last year- between May 2014 and April 2015.
It was followed by the Courtauld Institute of Art with 47.28 reported incidents, and UCL with 47.07.
London institutions took up the 18 highest places, while outside the capital, universities in Manchester and Salford had the highest levels of crimes in their neighbourhoods, the report found.
A King’s College London spokesman said the figures included crime reports by all residents, not just students, and serious incidents involving students were ‘an exception’.
The Complete University Guide said it carried out the study because universities were ‘unable or unwilling’ to reveal the rates of crime directly involving student victims, leaving many young people unaware of the risks in their chosen towns or cities.
Principal author Dr Bernard Kingston said: ‘Most universities, especially those in high crime areas, actively advise students on precautions they should take to avoid becoming the victims of crime.
‘But they only monitor crime on their own campuses and many students, especially international students attracted by the strong academic reputations of the UK’s universities, are often unaware of the level of crime in the areas around their chosen institutions.
‘All prospective students should be able to compare the risks in and near individual institutions with much greater precision. Regrettably, universities are either unable or unwilling to disclose the rates of crime directly affecting their students on campus let alone off campus.
‘We urge vice-chancellors and the universities to tell prospective students what their chances of falling victim to crime are, on and off campus.’
Researchers measured recorded crimes against anyone, student or non-student, and took professional advice on which offences were most relevant to students.
The University of Buckingham, Falmouth University and Durham University had the lowest crime rates, according to the report.
Buckingham had 8.58 reported crime incidents per 1,000 residents, compared with Falmouth in Cornwall with 11.34 and Durham with 12.30.
Outside London, the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music had the highest crime rates within a three-mile radius of their campuses, the study found.
The Royal Northern College of Music had 39.96 reported incidents per 1,000 residents, ahead of Manchester Met with 39.5, Salford with 39.14 and the University of Manchester with 39.13.
The average rate of crime within three miles of universities across England and Wales was 22.37 reported incidents per 1,000 residents
A King’s College London spokesman said: ‘The Complete University Guide’s annual ‘crime survey’ uses police data of crimes reported by all residents, not just students, living within three miles of each university.
‘In the case of King’s, London’s most central university, this includes the major transport hubs of Waterloo and London Bridge and many popular tourist destinations including Oxford Street, South Bank and the London Eye.
‘London faces similar challenges to many other major cities in dealing with crime. We regularly communicate the importance of personal safety to students, through our welcome and orientation sessions which include student safety advice from the Metropolitan Police, through leaflets and our website.
‘Serious incidents involving students are an exception and we have university and students’ union welfare teams available to provide professional support in these small number of cases, as well as strong security measures in place across all our campuses including swipe card access, video monitors and security on a 24/7 basis.’
Sir Anthony Seldon, the Buckingham vice-chancellor who has written a biography of David Cameron, said: ‘Year after year Buckingham comes top of the rankings as the safest place to study. One of the key considerations for parents is whether their child will be safe when they leave home and they certainly will be at Buckingham. With all the current concern about safety we are all the more delighted to hear the praise for the safety of our campus.’