Confidentiality and Data Sharing

Record keeping and reporting

It is essential for student support advisers and counsellors, including our Student Hub team, to keep brief records on their engagement with students. Notes may include sensitive personal information, key issues discussed with our staff, points of concern, and actions agreed to support the student.

When a student formally registers with Student Support Services – for example, to see a counsellor or an Accessibility Adviser - he or she will be asked to provide consent to allow the service to store and use this information in order to provide support to the student. This consent is normally sought on the registration form for the individual services e.g. counselling. If a student is not content for these records to be kept, it may not be possible to provide support. The reasons for this will be explained to the student in the initial session, and other support options will be suggested.

Duty Advisers and Student Hub staff will keep a brief record of their interaction with students; typically this will include a summary of the issue raised by the student, and the action taken or guidance provided by the staff member.

Student Support Services produces reports on trends, for example who accesses our services and how satisfied students are with the support they receive. Student information may at times be used for these statistical monitoring purposes, but no students will be identifiable from reports produced using that data.

All student notes are stored securely within case management systems operated by Student Support Services.

Confidentiality and data sharing

Counsellors’ and 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.

Staff working for Student Support Services 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 or another staff member(s))
  • 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
  • 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 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 them to disclose this themselves where appropriate. However, if there is no indication that this has happened, or is likely to happen, or 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 General Practitioner.

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.

Cause for Concern

We keep a record of students who we consider to be at risk of academic withdrawal or personal crisis. 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 adequate 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.

Information about students in crisis will be shared only if required, on a need to know basis, to ensure that robust and appropriate support can be provided. See the section on 'confidentiality and data sharing' for more details.

Data protection: access to notes

Under the Data Protection Act 1998, students have a right of access to notes kept on them by making a Subject Access Request. Find out how to do this at this link

If codes or technical terms are used in the notes, these will be explained to the student when the information is provided.

If the notes contain references to other individuals, such as the student’s GP or psychiatrist, where possible consent will be sought from the relevant practitioner before the correspondence is disclosed.  Where consent is not obtained, we will endeavour to remove (“redact”) references to other individuals.  In limited circumstances, it may not be possible to provide information whilst still maintaining the confidentiality of other individuals concerned and in these circumstances the information that can be provided may by restricted.

Details of case notes containing personal information are exempt from disclosure to third parties under Freedom of Information legislation.

External supervision

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.

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