Skip Navigation

Indicator 22: Criminal Incidents at Postsecondary Institutions
(Last Updated: May 2016)

In 2013, about 27,600 criminal incidents on campuses at postsecondary institutions were reported to police and security agencies, representing an 8 percent decrease from 2012 (29,800 incidents). The number of on-campus crimes reported per 10,000 full-time-equivalent students also decreased, from 19.8 in 2012 to 18.4 in 2013.

Since 1990, postsecondary institutions participating in Title IV federal student financial aid programs have been required to comply with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, known as the Clery Act. The Clery Act requires institutions to give timely warnings about crimes to students and staff; to publicly report campus crime and safety policies; and to collect, report, and disseminate campus crime data. Since 1999, data on campus safety and security have been reported by institutions through the Campus Safety and Security Survey. These reports include on-campus criminal offenses and arrests involving students, faculty, staff, and the general public. Reports on referrals for disciplinary action primarily deal with persons associated formally with the institution (i.e., students, faculty, and other staff).

In 2013, there were 27,600 criminal incidents against persons and property on campus at public and private 2-year and 4-year postsecondary institutions that were reported to police and security agencies, representing an 8 percent decrease from 2012 (29,800 incidents; table 22.1). The number of on-campus crimes per 10,000 full-time-equivalent (FTE) students71 also decreased, from 19.8 in 2012 to 18.4 in 2013 (table 22.2).

Among the various types of on-campus crimes reported in 2013, there were 15,500 burglaries,72 constituting 56 percent of all criminal incidents (table 22.1). Other commonly reported crimes included forcible sex offenses (5,000 incidents, or 18 percent of crimes) and motor vehicle theft (3,000 incidents, or 11 percent of crimes). In addition, 2,100 aggravated assaults and 1,300 robberies73 were reported. These estimates translate to 10.3 burglaries, 3.3 forcible sex offenses, 2.0 motor vehicle thefts, 1.4 aggravated assaults, and 0.9 robberies per 10,000 FTE students (table 22.2).

Looking at on-campus crime patterns over a longer period, the overall number of crimes reported between 2001 and 2013 decreased by 34 percent (figure 22.1 and table 22.1). Although the number of reported on-campus crimes increased by 7 percent between 2001 and 2006 (from 41,600 to 44,500), it decreased by 38 percent between 2006 and 2013 (from 44,500 to 27,600). The number of on-campus crimes reported in 2013 was lower than in 2001 for every category except forcible sex offenses and murder. The number of reported forcible sex crimes on campus increased from 2,200 in 2001 to 5,000 in 2013 (a 126 percent increase). More recently, the number of reported forcible sex crimes increased by almost a quarter between 2012 and 2013, from 4,000 to 5,000. Twenty-three murders were reported on college campuses in 2013, which was higher than the numbers reported in 2012 (12) or in 2001 (17).

Increases in FTE college enrollment between 2001 and 2013 as well as changes in the number of crimes affected the number of on-campus crimes per 10,000 FTE students (see Digest of Education Statistics 2014 for details about college enrollment). Overall, the number of on-campus crimes per 10,000 students decreased from 35.6 in 2001 to 18.4 in 2013 (figure 22.1 and table 22.2). Between 2001 and 2006, both enrollment and the number of on-campus crimes increased. However, because enrollment increased by a larger percentage than the number of crimes, the number of on-campus crimes per 10,000 students was actually lower in 2006 (33.3) than in 2001 (35.6). Between 2006 and 2013, the number of reported on-campus crimes decreased, enrollment increased, and the number of on-campus crimes per 10,000 students decreased from 33.3 to 18.4. The rates per 10,000 students for all types of reported on-campus crimes, other than forcible sex offenses and murder, were lower in 2013 than in 2001. In the case of forcible sex offenses, the rate increased from 1.9 per 10,000 students in 2001 to 3.3 in 2013. The rate per 10,000 students for murder was the same in 2013 and in 2001 (0.015).


Figure 22.1. Number of on-campus crimes reported and number per 10,000 full-time-equivalent (FTE) students in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by selected type of crime: 2001 through 2013

Figure 22.1. Number of on-campus crimes reported and number per 10,000 full-time-equivalent (FTE) students in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by selected type of crime: 2001 through 2013

1 Includes other reported crimes not separately shown.
2 Unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft.
3 Theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle.
4 Any sexual act directed against another person forcibly and/or against that person's will.
NOTE: Data are for degree-granting institutions, which are institutions that grant associate's or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Some institutions that report Clery data—specifically, non-degree-granting institutions and institutions outside of the 50 states and the District of Columbia—are excluded from this figure. Crimes include incidents involving students, staff, and on-campus guests. Excludes off-campus crimes even if they involve college students or staff. Some data have been revised from previously published figures.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education, Campus Safety and Security Reporting System, 2001 through 2013; and National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Spring 2002 through Spring 2014, Fall Enrollment component.


In 2013, the number of crimes committed on college campuses differed by type of institution, though to some extent this reflects the enrollment size of the types and the presence of student residence halls. Crimes involving students on campus after normal class hours, such as those occurring in residence halls, are included in campus crime reports, while crimes involving students off campus are not. In 2013, more on-campus crimes overall were reported at institutions with residence halls than at institutions without residence halls (24.2 vs. 6.2 per 10,000 students; table 22.2). Rates for most types of crime were also higher for institutions with residence halls. For example, more burglaries were reported at institutions with residence halls than at institutions without residence halls (13.9 vs. 2.9 per 10,000 students), and more forcible sex offenses were reported at institutions with residence halls than at institutions without them (4.6 vs. 0.5 per 10,000 students).

Although data for different types of institutions are difficult to compare directly because of the differing structures of student services and campus arrangements, there were decreases in the numbers of on-campus crimes at all types of institutions between 2006 and 2013. At public 4-year institutions, the number of on-campus crimes decreased from a high of 20,600 in 2006 to 13,200 in 2013, and the number of on-campus crimes per 10,000 students decreased from 35.5 to 19.6 during this period (tables 22.1 and 22.2). Similarly, at nonprofit 4-year institutions, the number of crimes decreased from 16,900 in 2006 to 10,400 in 2013, and the number of crimes per 10,000 students decreased from 57.7 to 31.3. At public 2-year institutions, the number of crimes decreased from 5,700 to 3,100 between 2006 and 2013, and the number of crimes per 10,000 students decreased from 15.4 to 8.0.


Figure 22.2. Number of on-campus arrests and number per 10,000 full-time-equivalent (FTE) students in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by type of arrest: 2001 through 2013

Figure 22.2. Number of on-campus arrests and number per 10,000 full-time-equivalent (FTE) students in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by type of arrest: 2001 through 2013

NOTE: Data are for degree-granting institutions, which are institutions that grant associate's or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Some institutions that report Clery data—specifically, non-degree-granting institutions and institutions outside of the 50 states and the District of Columbia—are excluded from this figure. Arrests include incidents involving students, staff, and on-campus guests. Excludes off-campus arrests even if they involve college students or staff. Some data have been revised from previously published figures.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education, Campus Safety and Security Reporting System, 2001 through 2013; and National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Spring 2002 through Spring 2014, Fall Enrollment component.


As part of the Clery Act, institutions are required to report the number of arrests made on college campuses for illegal weapons possession and drug and liquor law violations. In contrast to the decreases in reported on-campus crimes, the number of arrests on campuses increased overall between 2001 and 2013. The total number of arrests for illegal weapons possession and drug and liquor law violations increased from 40,300 in 2001 to 54,300 in 2011, then decreased to 47,800 in 2013 (figure 22.2 and table 22.1). While the number of arrests for weapons possession was 3 percent lower in 2013 than in 2001 (1,000 vs. 1,100), arrests for drug law violations increased by 70 percent during this period, from 11,900 in 2001 to 20,100 in 2013. There was also an increase in the number of arrests for liquor law violations between 2001 and 2006 (from 27,400 to 34,900); however, the number decreased between 2006 and 2013, with the 2013 figure (26,600) lower than in any year between 2001 and 2012. Between 2001 and 2013, the number of arrests per 10,000 students for weapons possession decreased from 0.9 to 0.7, while the number of arrests per 10,000 students for drug law violations increased from 10.2 to 13.4 (figure 22.2 and table 22.2). The number of arrests per 10,000 students for liquor law violations increased between 2001 and 2006 (from 23.5 to 26.2), but decreased between 2006 and 2013 (from 26.2 to 17.7).

There were some differences among institution types in the patterns of on-campus arrests made for illegal weapons possession and drug and liquor law violations. At public 4-year institutions, the number of on-campus arrests per 10,000 students was lower in 2013 than in 2001 (57.4 vs. 60.1; table 22.2). At nonprofit 4-year institutions, the number of on-campus arrests per 10,000 students decreased from 24.5 in 2001 to 17.2 in 2013. In contrast, the number of on-campus arrests per 10,000 students at public 2-year institutions was higher in 2013 than in 2001 (8.0 vs. 7.8).

In addition to reporting on-campus arrests, institutions report referrals for disciplinary action for cases involving illegal weapons possession, drug law violations, and liquor law violations. Disciplinary action counts only include incidents for which there was a referral for institutional disciplinary action, but no arrest. In 2013, there were 246,400 referrals for disciplinary action for cases involving weapons, drugs, and liquor law violations, with most of the referrals (90 percent) involving violations in residence halls (table 22.1). The largest number of disciplinary referrals (190,900) involved liquor law violations.


Figure 22.3. Number of referrals for disciplinary actions resulting from on-campus violations and number per 10,000 full-time-equivalent (FTE) students in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by type of referral: 2001 through 2013

Figure 22.3. Number of referrals for disciplinary actions resulting from on-campus violations and number per 10,000 full-time-equivalent (FTE) students in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by type of referral: 2001 through 2013

NOTE: Data are for degree-granting institutions, which are institutions that grant associate's or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Some institutions that report Clery data—specifically, non-degree-granting institutions and institutions outside of the 50 states and the District of Columbia—are excluded from this figure. Referrals include incidents involving students, staff, and on-campus guests. Some data have been revised from previously published figures. Excludes cases in which an individual is both arrested and referred to college officials for disciplinary action for a single offense.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education, Campus Safety and Security Reporting System, 2001 through 2013; and National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Spring 2002 through Spring 2014, Fall Enrollment component.


Similar to the number of on-campus arrests for drug law violations, the number of disciplinary referrals for these incidents increased between 2001 and 2013 (from 23,900 to 54,100 for a 127 percent increase; figure 22.3 and table 22.1). The number of referrals for liquor law violations also increased from 130,000 in 2001 to 190,900 in 2013 (a 47 percent increase). The number of referrals for illegal weapons possession was lower in 2013 (1,400) than in 2006 (1,900), but it was higher than the number of such referrals in 2001 (1,300). Some of these increases may be associated with there being more students on college campuses. The number of referrals per 10,000 students for illegal weapons possession increased between 2001 and 2006 (from 1.1 to 1.4), but decreased between 2006 and 2013 (from 1.4 to 1.0; figure 22.3 and table 22.2). The number of referrals per 10,000 students for drug law violations was lower in 2006 than in 2001 (20.4 vs. 20.5 referrals); however, it increased between 2006 and 2013 (from 20.4 to 36.1 referrals). While the number of referrals per 10,000 students for liquor law violations increased between 2001 and 2006 (from 111.3 to 141.6), the number in 2013 was lower than in 2006 (127.2 vs. 141.6 referrals).

Both public 4-year and nonprofit 4-year institutions had increases in disciplinary referrals between 2001 and 2013. At public 4-year institutions, the number of referrals for disciplinary action involving illegal weapons possession, drug law violations, and liquor law violations increased from 153.1 per 10,000 students in 2001 to 189.6 in 2013 (table 22.2). At nonprofit 4-year institutions, the number of referrals for these types of incidents rose from 275.5 per 10,000 students to 330.9. In both 2001 and 2013, liquor law violations constituted the majority of these referrals for disciplinary action at public 4-year (82 percent in 2001 and 77 percent in 2013) and nonprofit 4-year (86 percent in 2001 and 79 percent in 2013) institutions.

This indicator has been updated to include 2013 data. For more information: Digest of Education Statistics 2014, tables 22.1 and 22.2, and http://ope.ed.gov/security/.

Top


71 The base of 10,000 FTE students includes students who are enrolled exclusively in distance learning courses and who may not be physically present on campus.
72 Unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft.
73 Taking or attempting to take anything of value using actual or threatened force or violence.