The National Union of Students says universities must acknowledge they have failed to prevent the rampant prevalence of sexual assault and harassment on campus.
Students have accused universities of allowing rape cultures to develop on campuses around the country.
A landmark national survey into sexual assault and harassment of university students released on Tuesday shows widespread prevalence and great reluctance to report assaults to institutions.
The National Union of Students said students fought for the survey to happen and now saw their lived experiences in concrete data.
"Universities can no longer bury their heads in the sand and ignore sexual assault and harassment," NUS women's officer Abby Stapleton said.
"The prevalence of gendered violence on campus has become so great, universities need to fess up and acknowledge that they have failed to protect students, and allowed rape culture to manifest on campus."
The student union wants universities to establish a national complaints and compliance mechanism and maintain comprehensive records of assault and harassment reports.
Women's rights organisation ActionAid Australian said the numbers in the survey were devastating but not surprising.
"It is unacceptable that a country as wealthy as Australia has failed to take sufficient action in funding services that are critical to keeping women safe in public spaces," executive director Michelle Higelin said.
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
National 24-hour support line for university students 1800 572 224, with access to Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia counsellors (until November 30).
National domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800RESPECT. In an emergency call triple-zero.