What is Support for Study?
If the University are concerned about you or your behaviour, and they think that you might have an underlying health or personal issue, they may refer you for support under the Support for Study procedures.
This isn’t itself a disciplinary process – it’s intended to help you address any issues which may be affecting you. There are various kinds of support provided by the University, and this procedure is meant as a way to coordinate them better and come up with an action plan to get things back on track.
In some cases it may be used as an alternative to disciplinary action under the Code of Student Conduct, but this would only come about where you were thought to have broken the Code, and not just because someone was concerned about you.
On paper Support for Study has two stages, however there doesn’t have to be any formal discussion of things at stage 1 before your case is escalated to stage 2. Sometimes it’s only with hindsight that actions taken by various staff will be considered to have been stage 1.
Stage 1 (“Emerging concerns”):
This is the point when someone in the University initially becomes concerned about your health, wellbeing, or behaviour. This could be based on the impact it is having on you and your studies, or on other students or staff. At stage 1, these concerns are normally handled by an appropriate member of staff such as your Personal Tutor, Supervisor, or Student Support Officer. They will discuss their concerns with you to try to help you resolve them.
Possible outcomes of discussions at this stage could include:
- - No follow-up action necessary
- - Referral to an appropriate support service, for example the Counselling Service
- - An agreement about changes to your behaviour
It's worth noting that if you are unwilling or unable to discuss the situation at this stage, then you can be referred to the next stage of the process straight away.
Stage 2 (“Ongoing, repeated or more serious concerns”):
If earlier attempts to solve the issue have not worked out or if the concerns are particularly serious, then you may be referred to your College’s Support for Study panel.
This is a small committee chaired by the Dean of Students, together with senior staff from your School, the College, and a support service like the Student Counselling Service. Typically there’ll be five or six staff altogether.
(Quick note: for Medicine and Veterinary Medicine you’d be asked to meet with the ‘Student Support Group’ or ‘Student Support & Advisory Group’ instead — please see LEARN / EEVEC for details of these.)
The panel will be sent information by your School. This information will outline the reasons for their concerns, and the steps taken so far. The panel may also ask the School to outline what they hope to achieve, including any practical suggestions they may have (see ‘Possible recommendations’). The panel might share a copy of this referral with you before you meet them for your own reference, but they don’t always — they might feel it’s more appropriate to discuss things with you in person.
Once the panel have reviewed the concerns that have been reported to them, they will seek to meet with you. In the meeting, the panel will invite you to summarise the situation from your perspective. They will then try to discuss their concerns with you in a supportive way. Their aim is to ensure that all relevant parties understand the situation, and agree steps with you that can be taken to improve it.
Since it’s not a disciplinary meeting, you won’t be expected to prepare anything in advance to defend yourself. However, if there are problems you want to bring to their attention (inside or outside of University life) then this is an opportunity to do so, and it would be advisable to give some thought to what you’d like them to know ahead of time.
You don't have to attend the meeting, but if you choose not to then the panel can proceed in your absence.
What happens after the panel?
Whether or not you choose to meet with them, the panel will make recommendations that they think will be beneficial to you in resolving the perceived problems. Of course it’s best — if possible — to try and agree steps with the panel to get a plan that best fits your point of view. That said, you don’t have to agree to the recommendations if you don’t want to.
If your behaviour continues to cause concern or negatively affect others after a Support for Study meeting, then your case might be referred for further action under the Code of Student Conduct. Again, this would only happen if you were thought to have acted against the Code, and not simply for disagreeing with a panel recommendation.
This list comes from the Support for Study policy, section 6.4:
- - No actions necessary
- - Referral to appropriate support service — e.g. the Health Service, Student Counselling Service, or Student Disability Service
- - Application for a concession — e.g. an authorised interruption of studies, or a transfer to part time study
- - Adopting a ‘case management approach’ coordinated by a member of staff from the appropriate service (i.e. getting you a single point of contact)
- - A written agreement about necessary changes to behaviour, with a review period agreed
- - A record of likely consequences of any continuation of concerns, which may include referral to the Head of School for action under the Code of Student Conduct
- - Where behaviour appears to be in breach of the Code of Student Conduct, the Convenor of the College Panel can refer your case to the relevant Head of School for action under the Code
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to meet the panel?
No. It’s worth considering though, to make sure your point of view shapes recommendations which might be made. Engaging with the panel may also lessen the risk of later action under the Code of Student Conduct.
Who can come with me?
The policy says “the student is entitled to be accompanied at any meeting by their Students’ Association adviser, a fellow student or a member of staff.”
In practice, reasonable adjustments may be considered if you’d prefer to have someone else there with you, such as a family member or mental health mentor.
Who is informed about all of this?
It depends on the context, but only members of the panel itself should be sent information about your case as part of the Support for Study process.
Note that staff in your School may already be aware of concerns that have arisen there, and could potentially be involved with the referral process for Support for Study too. Typically, any communication between the School and the panel would go via a senior member of staff such as the Senior Tutor.
The policy says “Details of concerns logged at both stages of the policy are held as confidential notes on the student’s record”, and this record is not shared outside the University.”
Any concession which are requested as a result of Support for Study, such as an interruption of studies, would be recorded on your record in the normal way, but there wouldn’t be any indication of why they had been sought.
How can the Advice Place help?
Our Academic Advisers are experts in University regulations and can offer impartial, independent advice regarding ‘Support for Study’, or any other policies or procedures.
We are happy to answer any questions you might have about the process, the possible outcomes, and what to expect when you meet the panel. We can also accompany you to meet the panel if you like.
We are here to help you, and you can engage with our support at whatever level you feel you need and at any point in the process.
Support for Study policy:
Code of Student Conduct:
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