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Academic Handbook Student Welfare Policies and Procedures

Student Confidentiality Statement

Introduction

  1. This statement provides guidance to students on how and when to disclose information to Northeastern University London (the University) and what the student can expect once a disclosure has been made.
  2. The University has a duty of care to protect its staff and students from harm, as far as practicable and foreseeable. This duty of care extends to directing those in need of support to relevant support services and encouraging them to take up the support available.
  3. This statement applies to both prospective and current students. For the purposes of this document, ‘students’ includes undergraduate/postgraduate students, mobility students and degree apprenticeship learners. 
  4. This statement applies to students who may disclose a disability, medical condition or a personal matter, not related to their health or disability, to any member of staff. 
  5. Confidential information and personal data are not the same thing, but they can interact. For more information, please refer to the Data Protection Policy

General Principles

Disclosures and Information Sharing

  1. The University strongly advises students to disclose any disability-related need(s) and/or condition(s) at the earliest opportunity, in order for the University to meet their individual study and personal safety requirements. For further information refer to the Student Disability Policy. The University also advises students to share information about a disability, mental health or health condition even if they do not believe that additional support is required so that the University has a record and can provide support more quickly should an issue arise.
  2. Students have the right not to disclose a disability or to request that the existence or nature of their disability be treated as strictly confidential and therefore not shared with relevant staff across the University. However, the student should be aware that this may impair the ability of staff to provide them with the most effective teaching or services.
  3. The University is committed to respecting students’ privacy and to treat sensitive information with all due care. The University also must ensure that it acts appropriately to offer support to students and to safeguard students and staff. Therefore, information disclosed by a student may be shared between staff in Student Support and Development and Residence Life and key managers in order to deliver support and manage risk as set out in the Student Welfare Policy. In these circumstances, the information will be shared only on a need-to-know basis and restricted to the minimum information necessary to carry out support and safeguarding functions. 
  4. Students should be reassured that when they seek help in confidence, the information they reveal will not be shared with any third party, including family, without their consent except in exceptional cases as set out in the section titled Confidentiality.
  5. Student Support and Development (SSD) may receive sensitive information regarding a student from other students, staff, family, and external services. In these circumstances, information may be shared on a limited basis with appropriate people within the University. This is to ensure that students are provided with the most coordinated and timely support possible, as well as to ensure that potential or existing risk is managed appropriately. For more information in managing risk, please refer to the Student Welfare Policy and Support to Study Policy

Confidentiality 

  1. Requests for strict confidentiality may mean that:
    1. No, or a less satisfactory, reasonable adjustment can be offered.
    2. No, or limited support, can be offered. 
  2. There may be certain circumstances where the University needs to disclose information that the student has shared. In these circumstances the University will look to obtain the consent of the student where possible and explain why there is a need to disclose the information and who will have access to this information.
  3. Where the University feels it is urgently necessary for the student to have external support, for example from emergency services, medical services or next of kin, to help ensure their personal safety, and where students do not consent to share this information, as stated above, or where it is not practicable for the University to obtain consent, the University reserves the right to escalate concerns in line with their duty of care. The University may seek to notify other relevant individuals or services where:
    1. The student is considered likely to be a danger to themselves or others.
    2. The student has a medical emergency.
    3. The student is subject to a procedure resulting in their suspension, expulsion or removal from the University
    4. Disclosure is required by law and/or is in the public interest.1
    5. The University is made aware of an under 18 student or a vulnerable adult who is being abused or is at risk of abuse as set out in the University’s Safeguarding Policy.
  4. The University strongly advises students to register with a local GP and agree to information sharing with them. Students who do not agree to information sharing with their GP risk not being able to receive the right support or services.
  5. SSD may request permission from individual students for information sharing with NHS or private health or mental health services or with family members or close friends in order to help ensure appropriate support is in place.

Monitoring and Evaluating

  1. The Student Welfare Policy sets out how student welfare will be monitored and overseen.
  2. The University is obliged to provide anonymous data to the Higher Education Statistical Agency and the Office for Students on student disabilities and service usage as required by conditions of registration. 

Version History

Title: Student Confidentiality Statement

Approved by: Academic Board

Location: Academic Handbook/ Policies and Procedures/ General

Version number Date approved Date published  Owner  Proposed next review date
3.0 July 2022 August 2022 Registrar May 2024
2.0 Dec 2020 December 2020 Registrar May 2023
1.0 October 2019 October 2019 Registrar October 2020
Referenced documents Data Protection Policy; Prospective Student Disability Disclosure Form and Guidance; Student Disability Policy; Student Disclosure Form and Specific; Examination Requirements Disclosure Form; Support to Study Policy
External Reference Point(s) UK Quality Code Theme: Student Engagement; Learning and Teaching; Enabling Student Achievement; Higher Education Statistical Agency and the Office for Students

 

Footnotes

1 E.g. Terrorist activities or money laundering.