Stage 1 – Initial Action by the Department
- Should any previous informal action be unsuccessful, a member of staff should approach the student and explain to them, in a supportive and understanding manner, that concerns about their fitness to study have emerged. This would ordinarily be a member of staff within the academic department with primary responsibility and /or knowledge of the student concerned (e.g. their Personal Tutor or Director of Studies) together with the Departmental Disability Coordinators. However, if concerns arise within the student residences, then the Student Welfare Officer or Head of College should take the lead, in consultation with the student’s In all cases the respective SWO should be notified of the concern in order to ensure that a risk assessment is completed and that appropriate support is in place. Should a member of staff require advice or guidance on this they should contact the Head of Wellbeing.
- The student should be made aware of the precise nature of the behaviour that has caused these concerns to be raised, including, if appropriate, reference to the level of perceived risk presented by the student as measured by the risk assessment process. The member of staff will attempt to resolve the matter through discussions with the student. The student should be given the opportunity to explain their own views on the matter, and be encouraged to think about using one or more of the support services offered by the University or available outside the University. It may also be appropriate to look into the possibility of making special arrangements to enable the student to study effectively.
- It is hoped that in most cases issues can be resolved at this level, and that students will respond positively, co-operating fully with the process and taking advantage of the support
- A review period of three weeks should be determined as part of the risk assessment (if possible by agreement between the member of staff and the student) to allow the student to consider their own behaviour and seek guidance from the support services available. At the end of this period a meeting should be held to discuss any steps taken by the student to address the concerns. If the concerns have been addressed satisfactorily, this will be noted. If, however, the concerns have not been addressed, a further review period may be agreed, or the case will move to the next stage of the procedure. Addressing concerns at a satisfactory level will include demonstrating engagement with the process and also showing signs of
- The informal discussions, advice and any undertakings made by the Department and / or the student should be documented for the benefit of both the department and the student. The Risk Management Review Group should have access to the notes in order to update risk assessments and ensure that all follow-up procedures are in
- If a student is unable to cooperate with the above process or modify their behaviour, they should be informed that more formal action under Stage 2 of this policy may be considered
- If a student is not mentally able to engage with the process, the Fitness to Study procedures will enable the University to temporarily suspend the student’s studies until the student is deemed fit enough to attend a Fitness to Study meeting. The Head of Wellbeing will assess the risk and advise if the student is unable to engage due to
mental health difficulty, for example, psychosis – where their capacity to contribute fully and make informed decisions is compromised.
- If a Student is at serious risk of harming self or others immediate suspension may be enforced until Fitness to Study process can be
Stage 2 – Case Review Group
- If the action taken under Stage 1 has not been successful, or it is felt that the case is too serious to be dealt with informally, Stage 2 of the policy can be invoked. A meeting of a Case Review Group shall be convened by the Head of Department (or delegate) or Head of College if the issues are related to living in Halls of Residence. The group will comprise of appropriate representatives of the student’s academic department and Student Experience. A representative from the Student Accommodation Office and Security Services may also attend for information and advice if/when appropriate. Regardless of who makes up the Case Review Group, the Head of College and Head of Department should be alerted to the activation of Stage 2. A risk assessment conducted by the Risk Management Review Group must be completed prior to embarking on this stage.
- Before the meeting, a medical assessment may be sought. The student will be encouraged to consent to this, as it will ultimately enable the University to address the student’s difficulties in the most effective manner possible, and make an accurate assessment of risk. The medical assessment will be used to determine the following matters:-
- the nature and extent of any medical condition from which the student may be suffering;
- their prognosis;
- the extent to which it may affect his/her fitness to study and manage the demands of student life;
- any impact it may have or risk it may pose to others;
- whether any additional steps should be taken by the University in light of the medical condition to enable the student to study effectively;
- whether the student will be receiving any ongoing medical treatment or
- The student will be asked to authorise full disclosure to the University of the results of any examination. The University recognises that any such information disclosed will constitute “sensitive data” for the purposes of the Data Protection Act 1998 and will be handled, processed and stored accordingly. Should the student refuse to undertake a medical examination or share this information with the University, the University may either continue this policy based on the information already in its possession, or use another appropriate means to address the
- The student will be given at least 7 days notice of the Case Review Group and informed of the purpose of the meeting. They will also be provided with any documents which will be considered by the Group, and asked to provide any documentation they may wish the Group to consider within 48 hours of the .
- The student may be accompanied at the meeting by a Students’ Union representative, a fellow student, or other member of staff within the University. . Disabled students may also be accompanied by a support worker if
- The purpose of the meeting will be:
- to make the student aware of the nature of the concerns that have been raised,
- to hear and consider the student’s views,
- to agree the best way to proceed,
- to ensure that the student is fully aware of the possible outcomes if difficulties remain.
- The Case Review Group will order its proceedings at its own discretion and may invite other staff or students to attend, including respective support staff working with the student, and institute enquiries to assist its deliberations. The Case Review Group will request the risk assessment conducted by the Risk Management Review Group that includes impact on student(s) and staff. If the student is unwilling to engage with the process or does not attend the initial meeting, action can be taken in the absence of the student. Minutes must be taken and stored securely within the respective department.
- The Case Review Group may decide:
- That no further action is required;
- To formally monitor the student’s progress for a specified period of time. In this case an action plan will be agreed with the student, outlining any steps which the student will need to take and/or any support to be provided to the student to address the concerns identified. Regular review meetings with the student will need to be arranged with a nominated member of staff (to ensure that the action plan is being appropriately followed and/or that reasonable support to enable the student to study effectively is being provided). The student will also need to be informed of the consequences of any breaches of the action plan, which will normally involve their fitness to study being considered at Stage 3;
- To recommend part-time study (where appropriate and available) or that special academic arrangements be put in place. Such recommendations would need to be agreed by the student’s department and by the student and appropriately processed. The student should also be advised to seek guidance regarding the possible financial implications of moving to part-time study before agreeing to this change. The student will be informed that unless these arrangements remedy the concerns to the University’s satisfaction, their fitness to study may be considered at Stage 3;
- Where the student is on placement, to propose to the student suspending the placement or (if available) switching programmes to a ‘without placement’ equivalent. Students may be suspended from the placement component of the course if they are unable to meet requirements of professional regulatory bodies. Refer to ‘Fitness to Practice’ Policy and/or ‘Fitness to Teach Policy’ if the individual case cannot be appropriately dealt with via Fitness to Study procedures.
- With the consent of the student, to agree that their studies be suspended for a mutually agreed period of time;
- To refer the case to the University Secretary to be considered under Stage 3 of this procedure. This will only be appropriate in the most serious of cases, where for
example evidence of a serious risk to either the health and safety of the student or others has been identified, and it is thought that suspension, exclusion or expulsion of the student may be the appropriate course of action, or where a particular course of action has been recommended (such as part-time study or suspending a placement) but the student does not agree.
- The decision of the Case Review Group, together with a concise record of the meeting, should be sent to the student within 7 working days from the date of the meeting, and a copy kept on the student’s personal file within the Department or with the Head of College and a copy made available to the Risk Management Review
Stage 3 – Formal Review Panel
- This stage of the procedure will only be implemented following a referral from a Stage 2 Case Review Group, or if in the opinion of the University Secretary (having consulted as appropriate) initial concerns are raised which are sufficiently serious as to warrant the consideration of the student’s interruption/suspension, exclusion or expulsion (e.g. if they pose a potential threat to the health and safety of themselves or others, or disruption to the working of the institution).
- Pending the hearing by the Review Panel, the University Secretary shall consider whether interim suspension of the student pending further action is appropriate, including from University
- The University Secretary, in consultation with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, shall then convene a Review Panel which shall be chaired by the Deputy Vice- Chancellor or nominee. This will normally comprise the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the Head of Department, the Director of Student Experience and a member of Senate. If judged appropriate, the University Secretary or the University’s Legal Adviser may also be in
- The University Secretary’s Office will fix a date for a formal meeting of the Formal Review Panel to hear the case and invite the student to attend to discuss the concerns and all relevant issues. A member of the University Secretary’s Office will act as Secretary to the
- Wherever possible the student will be given at least 7 days notice of the meeting of the Formal Review Panel. The purpose of the hearing will be explained and any documents to be considered at the meeting will be
- The student may be accompanied at the meeting by a Students’ Union representative, a fellow student or other supporter. Disabled students may also be accompanied by a support worker where
- The purpose of the meeting will be to consider the evidence available, including the student’s perception of these concerns and to reach an appropriate decision, action plan or other
- The Formal Review Panel will order its proceedings at its discretion and may call witnesses and institute enquiries to assist its deliberations, including Student
Experience staff working with the student, which may include requesting further medical assessments of the student’s fitness to study. It will also consider an updated risk assessment where appropriate.
- The decision it arrives at shall be made by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor or nominee, having received the advice of other members of the
- The student shall be notified of the decision within 7 working days of the meeting of the Formal Review Panel. This may include one or more of the following:
- To formally monitor the student’s progress for a specified period of time. In this case the Panel will provide the student with an agreed action plan, outlining any steps which the student will need to take and/or any support to be provided to the student to address the concerns
Regular review meetings with the student will need to be arranged with a nominated member of staff (to ensure that the action plan is being appropriately followed and/or that reasonable support to enable the student to study effectively is being provided). The student will also need to be informed of the consequences of any breaches of the action plan.
- That, following consultation with the academic department, the student should convert from full-time to part-time study with support; special academic arrangements are put in place; or an interruption/suspension of studies occurs. The student should be advised to seek guidance regarding the implications of such a measure. The student will be informed of the consequences should these arrangements fail to remedy the concerns identified to the University’s
- To recommend that the Deputy Vice-Chancellor exercises her statutory power to suspend or exclude the
- To refer the case to the Senate with a recommendation that Senate should exercise its statutory power to expel the student from the
- Any other action considered to be appropriate and
- Statistics of all Fitness to Study outcomes will be reported to Senate for monitoring
Appendix 2 Return to Study
- After a period of suspension on health grounds reached by mutual consent, the decision as to whether to permit the student to return to study will be made by the Head of Department, having taken advice from the Director of Student
- To this end, the Head of Health & Wellbeing, in consultation with the Department, will identify the issues of concern the University has in respect of the student’s fitness to study. The Head of Health & Wellbeing will contact the relevant medical professional for an assessment of the student’s ability to manage the demands of studying at University, drawing attention to nature and extent of the student’s previous problems and the University’s concerns about
- Similarly, if the issues related to living in Halls of Residence rather than an academic context, the Head of Health & Wellbeing will contact the relevant medical professional for an assessment of the student’s ability to live independently and look after and care for themselves, drawing attention to the abilities and skills needed by a student to living successfully in university
- Students will only be permitted to return if, after receiving medical advice, the University is satisfied that the individual is fit to study and able to comply with any conditions imposed on their
- For suspensions made by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the same medical evidence will normally be required to inform the Deputy Vice-Chancellor in deciding if the suspension may be
- In cases where the University has any continuing concerns about the individual’s wellbeing/ fitness to study, a medical examination will be required in order to properly evaluate the student’s current state and provide a second medical opinion. If this is the case, the University will nominate a doctor/specialist and cover the
- In any case where a student returns to study following the implementation of the fitness to study procedure, the University may decide that there should be regular review meetings with the student that can be used to monitor and support a return to study plan. If so, the student must provide their continued co-operation in this respect and such review meetings may continue for part or all of their remaining time at
Appendix 3 – Templates for letters
We have concerns or your welfare and we have arranged a meeting to assess your fitness to study in order to discuss how to best support you during this time.
A Fitness to Study meeting has been arranged for (time) on (date). The meeting will take place (location). Attending this meeting is very important as it will enable us to determine how to best support you at this point of your academic progression. If you do not attend, there is a possibility that we may consider an alternative arrangement until we can ensure that you are safe.
You are entitled to bring somebody with you to the meeting and we strongly recommend that you bring someone from the Roehampton Students’ Union (RSU) team or your Student Welfare Officer (SWO) as they are very experienced in supporting students through formal University procedures.
Please confirm your attendance by responding to this email. If the proposed time clashes with University lectures or a medical appointment, please contact me to arrange an alternative time.
Kind Regards, Name
Thank you for attending the meeting today.
To summarise the Fitness to Study follow-up meeting that we just had:
- You have been feeling low and at risk
- You have been able to use your self-management plan and engage with our support to help you
- You are concerned about your difficulties impacting your academic progression
We outlined the following expectations of you and put a plan in place to support you:
- You will make an appointment with your GP to discuss external support options
- You will also discuss changing the medication that you are currently taking
- You will continue to engage with Wellbeing Staff and Disability Staff
- You will meet with your Personal Tutor to establish a plan going forward
We have arranged a follow up meeting which will take place on (date and time) at (location).
Kind Regards, Name
Student Experience Weekly Risk Management Review
To provide a forum for multi-disciplinary discussion regarding students who are a cause for concern and implement risk management procedures.
This group will provide:
- enhanced co-ordination of complex casework
- coherent and cohesive Student Experience advice to academic departments, including Fitness to Study
- a framework for staff to act flexibly in the interests of the student
- robust individual and institutional risk management
- clear allocation of responsibilities
- a way to manage demanding cases that are utilising varied services ensuring full communication
- identification of cross cutting issues and needs (e.g. emerging issue re support workers)
- space to talk and support each other
Referrals can be made from any member of staff thought it is anticipated that the majority of referrals will be raised through student service staff.
Threshold for referral
Referrals can be made due to wide variety of concerns, including (but not restricted to) mental health, risk to self, disability, sexual assault, serious self-harm, suicidal ideation and/or attempt and extremism. The threshold for referral should be if the usual provision of service(s) is not sufficient to manage risk.
Open discussion and rigorous debate culminating in a decision from the Chair which articulates:
- The way in which individual services will provide support
- The boundaries around service provision
- A communication plan for student services staff
- Advice to other members of the university community
Chair – Head of Disability Services and Head of Wellbeing Services Disability Advisor
Student Welfare Officers Mental Health Advisor