The University of British Columbia is on alert after an unidentified man sexually assaulted three female students on campus in the past month.

A fourth attack may have taken place over the weekend, according to the Ubyssey student newspaper, although no one has come forward yet to the RCMP.

The attacks are now under investigation by the RCMP's Major Crime Unit after a third incident on Saturday night, in which a man accosted a 17-year-old girl and tried to drag her into a wooded area.

The man ripped at her clothing and punched her in the face, before her screams caused him to run away. 

Student Brook Reed said she was shocked by the assaults.

"It's kind of shocking to me because, realistically, I think that UBC is fairly safe," she said.

The suspect is described as Caucasian, between 20 and 30 years old, six feet two inches tall, with a thin build and an American accent.

University RCMP Sgt. Drew Grainger said the assaults have become his detachment's top priority.

"We've had three confirmed attacks here within three weeks. That's obviously very concerning to all the stakeholders at UBC," he told CBC News.

"I know in previous years some of the attacks have been not quite as compressed, so it's causing us that much more concern because of the frequency of the attacks."

Some on campus are taking a cautious approach. Student Riyanka Manhas told CBC News she always makes sure to have friends with her.

SafeWalk, a program on campus that offers a walking partner to students travelling alone at night, has seen a marked increase in demand following the assaults.

Louise Cowin, UBC's vice-president of students, said while many on campus are worried about their safety, students are doing everything they can to make one another feel safe again.

"What we've seen following the incident on Saturday is the community really coming together and putting in place buddy systems and ways in which they're committing to look out for each other," Cowin said.

"We're simply not going to be able to post a police person on every corner. Certainly the university and campus security have increased their levels of patrols."

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.

With files from the CBC's Belle Puri