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Student Emergency and Crisis Intervention Protocol

If a student is experiencing an emergency or crisis, we’re here to help. The University has a protocol in place to provide you with a clear process on how to respond to any concerns you may have – as well as steps you should take during an emergency of crisis situation.

What is an emergency?

An emergency is something that requires immediate action and intervention from the emergency services. Examples might include:

  • Student death on campus
  • Expressing suicidal intentions with immediate intent
  • Violent behaviour to people or property
  • Serious injury to a student that requires medical intervention
  • Serious assault by or against a student (physical, sexual) – real time
  • Major catastrophe (serious accident, fire)

If you're still unsure whether something qualifies as an emergency, you can consult this flowchart.

What to do in an emergency

If there is an emergency, you should take the following steps:

  • Ensure the safety of staff and students
    • Wherever possible, remove yourself and others from any source of danger or distress.
    • Do not put yourself or others at risk.
  • Call emergency support
    • If someone needs an ambulance, call 999.
    • Once the ambulance is on its way, call the University security team on x2222 (or 01786 467999 if using a mobile phone) to inform them an ambulance will be attending the University.
    • If other emergency services are required, immediately contact security on x2222 (or 01786 467999 if using your mobile phone). They will arrange for the relevant service to be contacted.
  • Gather information and report to senior staff and line manager
    • After the immediate emergency has passed, make a brief note of the basic facts surrounding the incident, including: details of who was involved (including student numbers), a summary of incident and a summary of immediate actions taken. For help getting started, we've created an Incident Report Form template.
    • If a student has died, consult the Procedure in the Event of a Student Death.
    • Notify the Academic Registrar, Deputy Principal (Education and Students) and your line manager as soon as possible. You should include your incident notes.
    • Request the creation of a student case file on Box so that notes can be shared as appropriate with others. We've provided guidelines on how to create a student case file, as well as a student case file template, on Box.
    • Add your initial incident report to the student case file once it has been created.
  • Support phase
    • What is done next will be agreed by the Academic Registrar, Deputy Principal and other staff as required. This is likely to involve the Student Incident Response Team (SIRT).
    • SIRT will identify necessary support and ensure its implementation.
    • You should record brief, factual details of actions taken in a Box student case note and share as appropriate.
  • De-escalation
    • The University will coordinate ongoing support post-emergency as agreed by SIRT, and all those affected will be debriefed.
    • SIRT will then review protocols, policies, training and support requirements where applicable.

What is a crisis?

A crisis is something that is not an emergency, but requires quick intervention to prevent it from escalating into a situation that will cause harm or distress. Examples might include:

  • A missing student
  • Significant or alarming changes in behaviour indicating possible poor mental health (e.g. changes in sleeping patterns, appearance, hygiene)
  • Evidence of self-harm (includes alcohol abuse, eating disorders and physical self-harm)
  • Repeated anti-social behaviour
  • Concerns about possibility of violence occurring by or against a student
  • Significant risk of academic non-progression
  • Evidence of addiction (e.g. gambling, alcohol, drugs)
  • Serious assault by or against a student (physical, sexual) – historic

If you're still unsure whether something qualifies as a crisis, you can consult this flowchart.

What to do in a crisis

If there is a crisis, you should take the following steps:

  • Initial response
    • If you have a concern, speak to the student(s) to find out more about the situation.
    • Don’t promise absolute confidentiality to the student. Make them aware from the outset that you will listen and be supportive, but if you consider them to be at risk of harming themselves or others, or you become aware of illegal activity, you may need to share that information with a colleague.
    • Keep a brief record of the conversation and any actions taken.
  • Referral to Student Support Services (office hours)

    If the situation is not an emergency, but you’re concerned the student is in crisis, encourage them to make contact with Student Support Services. You can offer to make this contact on their behalf if you obtain their consent first.

    If you don’t get consent, you should:

    • Try to inform the student that you need to report the situation to Student Support Services.
    • Contact Student Support Services at 01786 466022, or visit the Student Service Hub in 2A1, Cottrell.
    • Advise the Student Hub Assistant you have a student in crisis, and that you need support/guidance. The Student Hub Assistant will ask you for: the student’s name and student number, a brief summary of the incident or situation, information regarding whether you have already contacted any other service and your name and contact number.
    • Keep a brief record of the incident and your actions. You can use the template incident report form.
  • Response/escalation within Student Support Services
    • If you report a student incident to Student Support Services during office hours, a member of the Student Support Team will respond in line with SSS Crisis Intervention Procedures.
    • The Student Adviser/Counsellor involved in the case should keep a brief factual record of actions taken, and will create a student case file to share with appropriate staff.
    • The Student Adviser/Counsellor should provide appropriate feedback to the member of staff who made the initial referral, while ensuring that the confidentiality of the student remains safeguarded.
  • Student Incident Response Team
    • If required, the Student Incident Response Team (SIRT) can be convened at short notice. This is done in the event of an emergency or serious student crisis.
    • SIRT is normally convened after a student crisis is referred to the Deputy Head of Student Support Services/Head of Student Support Services.
  • De-escalation
    • Ongoing support will be agreed, and an appointed Action Manager or member of staff should create a brief, factual record of that support on Box.
    • SIRT or a senior manager involved in the case should convene a meeting for all staff involved to provide them with a summary of key points and the outcome of the case.
    • Changes to policy, protocols and training should be identified during this meeting.
    • A brief, factual note of key points and actions agreed should be shared in the case file in Box.

After-hours or overseas emergency or crisis

If there is an emergency or crisis happening overseas or outside of office hours, follow these steps:

  • What to do in an after-hours emergency or crisis

    If the emergency occurs outside of UK office hours, you should refer to the procedure for overseas emergencies within office hours.

    If there is a crisis that occurs outside of UK office hours, you should: 

    • Ask the student if they’re safe or at risk of harm, and find out where they are and how to contact them.
    • If they’re safe, tell the student to contact their local support services at the University. If they are concerned for their safety, advise them to call a trusted friend or the police and ask for assistance.
    • Ask the student what support they would like, reassure them you will do your best to help and email the Head of Student Support Services and the Academic Registrar to make them aware there is a student in crisis overseas. Copy this email to the member of staff responsible for managing the overseas relationship, and include factual information only.
    • If you feel the situation is an emergency that requires prompt action, refer to the procedures for responding to an emergency overseas.
  • What to do in an overseas emergency or crisis

    If you’re notified of an emergency or a crisis affecting an overseas student or a student abroad, you should:

    • First, establish if it is an emergency or a crisis.
    • If it’s within office hours at the overseas institution, contact the named emergency contact listed on the University’s emergency contacts list and provide them with information to determine whether they need to invoke their emergency procedures.
    • Notify the Academic Registrar, the Head of Student Support Services and the member of staff at the University who is responsible for managing the relationship with the overseas provider.
    • Keep a brief, factual record of actions taken.

    If you think the situation is an emergency and it’s outside of office hours at the overseas institution, you should:

    • Notify the Academic Registrar as soon as possible by phone, and send an email to the overseas emergency contact providing brief details of the emergency and actions taken.
    • Copy this to the Head of Student Support Services and the member of staff who is responsible for managing the relationship with the overseas provider.

    If you think the situation is a crisis and it’s outside of office hours at the overseas institution, you should:

    • Engage with the student and ask what support they need. If you’re not comfortable doing this, contact the Student Services Hub and report that you have a student in crisis. Be prepared to provide the following information: Student name and ID number, student contact details (address, phone) and brief information about the emergency/cause for concern.
    • Notify the Academic Registrar and the Head of Student Support Services as soon as possible. They will consider the appropriate action and agree whether it’s necessary to notify the overseas institution and the member of staff responsible for managing the relationship with that institution.

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