One in five lesbian, gay and bisexual students has experienced bullying or harassment at a university campus, with the figure rising to one in three for trans students, a new report reveals.

The National Union of Students has surveyed more than 4,000 respondents from 80 higher education institutions in a ground-breaking piece of research.

It found just 20.6% of trans students feel completely safe on campus, less than half the proportion of their heterosexual counterparts (43%) and significantly less than the 36.7% of LGB students who feel completely safe.

The report draws on a national survey of more than 4,000 respondents from 80 higher education institutions in the UK that was conducted between February and March 2014.

One in two (51%) of trans respondents have seriously considered dropping out of their course, a figure far higher compared to LGB and heterosexuals, which ranges from 25-30%.

Trans respondents are twice as likely as LGB students to have experienced harassment.

Sky Yarlett and Finn McGoldrick, NUS’ LGBT Officers, said: “This research confirms our fears about the impact that isolation, discrimination and coming out has on LGBT students. It’s appalling to hear that LGBT students don’t feel safe in an educational environment and are experiencing bullying just because of who they are.

“Many LGBT students continue to feel alone in education and society as a whole. Many suffer mental health and financial issues, and all too often we hear cases of LGBT students leaving education altogether as an indirect result of their identity.

“We can no longer ignore the plight of LGBT students. We absolutely need to enforce zero tolerance policies for homophobic and transphobic behaviour, ‘banter’, and bullying to make sure our campuses are inclusive and that all students, regardless of their sexuality or identity, have a chance to succeed.”

Luke Tryl, Head of Education, Stonewall, added: “This rigorous research from the NUS makes plain that too many lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans students don’t feel safe whilst studying and that too many universities haven’t yet taken the simple steps to make them feel both safe on campus and able to report harassment.

“We hope that all of Britain’s Higher Education institutions implement the recommendations of this report, and look forward to working with them and the NUS to make this happen.”

On Monday, the Archbishop of Canterbury told PinkNews that homophobic bullying was “always unacceptable and totally wrong.”

Justin Welby made the comments after visiting a Church of England school in south London.