A 17-year-old female student was attacked just after midnight Saturday by a man who tried to drag her off into a wooded area at the University of British Columbia. Police say this is the third such attempted sexual assault in the past three weeks.

University RCMP Sgt. Drew Grainger said that the student was walking alone on campus and was in the 2500 block of West Mall when a man suddenly emerged from a wooded area and came up behind her.

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The University of British Columbia has issued a safety alert, after a spate of disturbing sexually-motivated attacks on women on campus. (UBC)

He grabbed her hips and tried to drag her back into the woods. He ripped at the clothes under her skirt. He also punched her in the face, which left her with a bruised eye.

The woman struggled, broke free, and screamed for help, at which point the attacker ran away.

The woman described the attacker as white, late-20s to early-30s, and approximately six feet two inches tall with a thin build. He had short, cropped hair and was wearing jeans and a dark hoodie, and it sounded as though he spoke with an American accent.

Third attack since Sept. 28; sixth in 2013

Grainger said there have been two other similar attacks that have taken place on the UBC campus in the past three weeks.

"This assault series has become University RCMP Detachment's top priority. We are engaged with many partner law enforcement agencies to attempt to identify and apprehend the person or persons responsible for these attacks," he said in a written statement.

He said police and campus security are asking members of the community to take extra precautions, especially when walking on campus at night, to ensure their personal safety.

Tips on any of the incidents are being received through the University RCMP at 604-224-1322 or through Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

Map legend - UBC campus attacks 2013