Student Support Office
University of Essex
1. Confidentiality Statement
Student Support at the University of
Essex is committed to providing a confidential service to students.
Student Support believes all students have the right to
confidentiality to protect their interests and ensure a relationship
of trust between student and advisers.
2. Definition of Confidentiality
Student Support understands
confidentiality to mean that no information regarding a student
shall be shared with any other department of the University, or any
external agency or person, without that student’s prior, expressed
consent; except where issues of safety or legality apply (see
Section 5). Information may occasionally be shared indirectly with
Information Support Systems or the Planning Office for the purposes
of maintaining systems.
Furthermore, we acknowledge that students are autonomous adults and
so will not discuss any details of a student’s case with his/her
parents, or other family members, unless prior consent has been
obtained from the student in line with the university policy on
contact with third parties:
http://www.essex.ac.uk/records_management/policies/third_party_contact.aspx. Records of all such contact will be kept on the
3. Expressed Consent to Share Information
It is the responsibility of Student
Support staff to ensure that they obtain consent in writing,
ordinarily through signing the ‘Student Support Confidentiality
Agreement,’ before sharing any information or taking any action on
behalf of a student. The written consent will be held in Student
Support files. Students abroad or unable to come in person to
Student Support may make alternative arrangements in exceptional
If a student chooses not to give consent
for information to be shared, this decision will be respected,
except where issues of safety or legality apply (see Section 5).
However, the student should understand this may limit the kinds of
support that are available to them.
4. Information Shared Within the Student Support Office
Where necessary, information may be
shared between the different members of Student Support (which
includes the Residents’ Support Network). Files are held centrally
and can be accessed by all members of Student Support although it is
expected that staff access student information on a ‘need to know’
The Wellbeing Service, although part of Student Support, offers some
enhanced confidentiality and has an additional confidentiality
policy to ensure that Wellbeing Practitioners can adhere to ethical
and professional guidelines. Information shared with Wellbeing
Practitioners will not normally be shared with other members of
Student Support without prior consent except where issues of safety
or legality apply.
5. Occasions When Information May Be Shared
Student Support recognises that occasions
may arise where individual advisers feel that information needs to
be shared; for example, by contacting the Health Centre or an
emergency contact. The circumstances where this may apply could
If there is good reason to believe that
you, or someone else, may be at risk of serious
harm, information may be disclosed to third parties
outside of the service.
This could include the Director, or Deputy
Directors, of Student Support, an external agency or
for example the Health
If there is a child protection concern
If required by a court of law to provide
If you make a formal complaint
or an appeal to the University citing your contact
with Student Support.
However, unless the situation was an
emergency, we would always seek to discuss any proposed disclosure
with you in advance to try and obtain your consent.
On those occasions where a member of
staff feels information needs to be shared, the following steps will
The adviser will raise the matter immediately with their Line
Manager and discuss the issues involved including why they feel
information needs to be shared. The Line Manager and adviser will
agree on a course of action and a written record of the discussion
will be made.
The Line Manager will inform the Director of Student Support or a
Deputy Director of Student Support.
If the Line Manager and adviser do not agree, the ultimate decision
is to be made by the Director, or as an alternate, a Deputy
In all circumstances the student involved
will be informed, as far as practicable, of the decision to share
information and the reasons why the decision has been taken.
6. Data Protection Act
University has a notification under the Data Protection Act 1998 to
hold personal data about its students. All personal information in
the University’s possession is managed in accordance with the Act
and its principles. The University is committed to full compliance
with the Act, as set out in the University-wide Data Protection
Policy. All staff who process or who are likely to process personal
data as part of their job are expected to adhere to this policy.
Whilst the policy does not directly address the status of verbal
information, the general principles of the Act would still apply and
certainly any written notes arising from discussion are subject to
the provisions of the Act. All students have a right to request a
copy of their records.
While the Data Protection Act does enable students to give
permission to the University to disclose information about them to
third parties, the University is not then legally obliged to do so.
Nothing in the Data Protection Acts states that the University must
disclose data to a named third party. In short, just because we can,
it does not mean we have to. Our position has been confirmed by the
Office of the Information Commissioner.
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