As many as one in four women experience sexual assault at college, though the vast majority never report it, according to a study of students at nine schools released Wednesday by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. 

An average of 21 percent of female undergraduates at the unnamed colleges and universities told researchers they had been sexually assaulted since starting their higher education. One in four female seniors reported being sexually assaulted in their undergraduate years, with the rate ranging from a high of one in two at some of the schools that were studied to a low of one in eight. 

The prevalence of campus sexual assault found by the federally funded study, while shocking, is similar to the results of earlier research. The new study also shows sexual violence varies considerably at different schools, said Christopher Krebs, a research scientist who was the report's lead author. 

"We don't think of a single statistic is of interest to universities trying to combat this problem," Krebs said. Instead, he explained, researchers tried to provide ranges of what students had experienced at the nine schools studied.

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