Confidentiality and data sharing
What information do we collect?
When a student formally registers with Student Support Services via the Student Services Hub – for example, to see a Counsellor or an Accessibility Adviser – they will be asked to provide consent to allow the service to store and use personal information in order to provide support to the student. Personal information collected can include but is not limited to a student’s name and student number, as well as sensitive information such as whether a student has a disability, and GP contact details.
Student Support Advisers and Student Hub staff will keep a brief record of their interaction with students; typically this will include a brief, factual summary of the issue(s) raised by the student, and the action taken or guidance provided by the staff member.
Consent to collect and use personal information is sought on Student Support Service registration forms, and consent to record and store notes on a student’s engagement with a Student Adviser, Counsellor or Student Hub Assistant will also be sought during their discussions with a student.
Why do we collect this information?
It is essential for our staff to keep brief records on their engagement with students, for the following reasons:
- Case notes record a reliable history of important information relating to a student’s support requirements and therefore ensures appropriate and high quality support is provided;
- Maintaining case notes allows us to identify any gaps in the support being provided to a student;
- Counsellors and some Student Support Advisers are required by their professional accrediting bodies to record and maintain case notes.
Who might we share information with?
Student Support Services staff are committed to protecting and respecting a student’s confidentiality and privacy. Our staff will not pass on personal information about students, except in the following circumstances:
- Where the member of staff has the consent of the student to disclose the information (e.g. to GP, another staff member(s), or to a body such as Student Awards Agency for Scotland);
- Where the member of staff or the University would be liable to civil or criminal court procedure if the information was not disclosed;
- Where the member of staff believes the student or a third party is in danger/at risk of harm and it is in their vital interest to extend confidentiality;
- Where there is a legal requirement to disclose information;
- Where the information is required by the police for the prevention or detection or crime or the apprehension or prosecution of an offender and not providing the information would prejudice the investigation;
- Where it is necessary to share this information with colleagues within the University of Stirling on a need to know basis to help them provide robust and appropriate support to the student or third parties. This might include, for example, senior staff in the Accommodation Services team or a Personal Tutor.
Wherever possible, we will seek the consent of students to share information and we will encourage students to disclose information to relevant third parties where appropriate. However, if there is no indication that a student has disclosed information to the third party, or is likely to disclose, and if the risk of harm is sufficiently acute, we may pass on the information directly to relevant staff or to external parties, such as the student’s GP.
All Student Counsellors are required to participate in regular supervision sessions. During these sessions, they may share details of cases, but they will not disclose the name or student number of the client.
What do we do with a student’s information?
Student Support Services collects data on, for example, how many students access our services and how satisfied students are with the support they receive. Student information may at times be used for statistical monitoring purposes, but no students will be identifiable from reports produced using that data.
We keep a record of students who we consider to be at risk of academic withdrawal or personal crisis, and are thus a particular cause for concern. This record is held securely within Student Support Services and access is restricted to a very limited number of staff who need this information in order to provide support to these students. Students are added to the register by a member of the Student Support Services team e.g. a Student Counsellor or the Mental Health Adviser following professional analysis, and are removed as soon as their circumstances change to the point where we no longer consider them to be a cause for concern. We keep this information in order to closely monitor whether support being given to a student who is a cause for concern is appropriate to reduce the risk of academic or personal crisis. Consent will be obtained from a student to be added to this record whenever possible and a student will only be added to the record without consent when it is in the student’s vital interest.
How do we store information?
All Counsellors’ and Student Support Advisers’ notes and any information you provide during meetings with Student Support Services staff (including the Student Hub team), or as part of registration, pre-assessment or initial identification of needs forms will be held securely within case management systems operated by the Student Support Services team.
A basic record of engagement with each of our support services is stored on the University’s student information system. Access to the record of engagement is carefully controlled, and is restricted to staff who may reasonably need to know this information in order to provide support to students.
How long do we keep hold of a student’s information?
Student Support Advisers and Student Hub team will retain information and case notes for a student for one year after a student either leaves or graduates from the University of Stirling. Information will then be destroyed confidentially.