Introduction

It is expected that all students that are enrolled on a university course are fit to undertake and complete their studies. However, should a situation arise where there are concerns as to a student’s fitness to study, this policy provides both the student and the University with a procedure that allows for appropriate support to be put in place with the aim of supporting the student to continue with their studies. In rare cases, where there is not restoration of the student’s fitness to study, the student may be de-matriculated, so they can focus on recovery.

The University recognises the student’s need for help and support and also for clarity about their future as a student. This procedure provides for the University promptly addressing any cases where a student’s fitness to study becomes a concern, with the intention that an early intervention may prevent situations developing into crises.

The University is committed to supporting student wellbeing and recognises that a positive approach to the management of physical and mental health issues is critical to student learning, academic achievement and to the wider student experience.

Fitness to study is defined as fitness to participate and to function in University life. This means that the student is:

  • fit in respect of the abilities of the student to meet the requirements of the course and achieve relevant academic and professional goals;
  • fit in respect of the behaviours expected in an academic learning, residential and social environment;
  • fit in respect of the ability to be more or less self-sustaining within the Higher Education environment, with the only support provided of the scale and scope that an Higher Education Institution can reasonably be expected to provide.

The University also recognises that there may be instances where a student’s physical or mental health may give rise to concerns about the student’s fitness to study, for example the student’s capacity to engage with their studies and/or to function more widely as a member of the University community. Such instances may arise where, for example, the University is concerned that:

  • a student poses a risk to their own health, safety and/or wellbeing and/ or that of others;
  • a student’s behaviour is (or is at risk of) adversely affecting the teaching, learning and/or experience of other students;
  • a student’s behaviour is (or is at risk of) adversely affecting the day-to-day activities of the University or a placement provider;
  • a student’s support needs fall outside the scope of the support and other services which the University can reasonably be expected to provide either directly or indirectly.

This Policy and Procedure sets out how the University will respond to instances where a concern is raised regarding a student’s fitness to study, and the type of action that the University may take to manage the matter and support the student. The three-level procedure is fully explained in section 3, and comprises of the following:

Level 1 – Initial concerns/informal intervention within the Academic Programme

Level 2 – Formal intervention within the Academic School

Level 3 – Fitness to Study Panel

Depending on individual circumstances, this procedure may be invoked at any of the three levels above.  For students on Nursing and Allied Health courses, the Fitness to Practise Policy would ordinarily be invoked instead of the Fitness to Study Procedure.

Students may appeal against a decision under the Fitness to Study Procedure. The procedure to do so is set out in section 4 and the appeal shall be addressed to the University Secretary.

1. Principles and Scope of Procedure

1.1. This procedure is not an alternative to disciplinary action, or other relevant University procedures or policies such as the Regulations Governing Discipline or Assessment Regulations. The University reserves the right to initiate other procedures where appropriate.

1.2. A student’s fitness to study may be considered despite the fact that other University processes have been invoked. Examples of other relevant procedures include:

  • Failure to make satisfactory progress in academic studies (dealt with under the appropriate Assessment Regulations).
  • Misconduct as normally defined by the University (dealt with under the Regulations Governing Discipline).

The University may refer the treatment of a student’s case out of one procedure to another to secure an appropriate response on the facts of the case but will not normally consider parallel procedures about the same substantive matter. The determination of which procedure should apply shall be made by the University Secretary.

1.3. The identified serious concern(s) may relate to the presence of a diagnosed illness or disability but this procedure may also be used when there is no diagnosed illness or disability, or no notification of such a diagnosis.

1.4. The Fitness to Study Procedure consists of three levels. Depending on the individual circumstances, this procedure may be invoked at any of the three levels.

1.5. If the student has been given permission for deferral of studies (leave of absence), it will ordinarily be more appropriate for the Fitness to Study Procedure to be considered once the student returns to study.

1.6. The principles of this policy and procedure apply to all registered students in all locations on and off campus, both in the UK and overseas.

1.7. If a concern regarding fitness to study arises whilst the student is on placement, the University may discuss and consider alternative arrangements with the placement provider. If it is not possible for alternative arrangements to be made, the student’s placement may be withdrawn and deferral or other adjustments considered.

1.8. All matters dealt with under this Procedure will be dealt with according to the individual circumstances. Whilst the University anticipates that such cases will be exceptional, it reserves the right at any level of this Procedure to vary the process it follows in dealing with a matter in the interests of fairness and/or health and safety (for example, in crisis situations, or where it is concerned that a student’s attendance at a meeting would be unduly stressful, or where the student is in hospital).

1.9. University staff dealing with students at any level of this Procedure will consider what support may be offered to the student both from within the University (e.g. by staff of Student Services) and externally (e.g. directing or referring students to local GPs or mental health services). Students will be encouraged to seek support where it is deemed necessary. Impartial advice about this procedure may be sought from the Queen Margaret University Students’ Union

1.10. Students should be involved in the management of their own wellbeing wherever possible. However, should a student be unwilling or unable to participate at any level of this Procedure or to attend a meeting, the University may nonetheless follow this Procedure where it is reasonable to do so. The University may in exceptional circumstances, where it is reasonable to do so, deal with issues on the basis of written reports and/or statements in the absence of the student and/or their representative.

1.11. Where in this Procedure reference is made to any named University role, such references are to be read as including reference to their nominees, or nearest equivalent where matters are being considered in partner institutions.

2. Circumstances for Support/Intervention

2.1. The University recognises that concerns may be raised by a variety of individuals, for example University staff, other students, and third parties (such as health professionals or placement providers). This Procedure seeks to promote early intervention, active collaboration between staff, students and third parties, and consistency of approach. Matters will be dealt with sensitively and non-judgementally and in a coordinated manner across the University. Whilst the University will seek to work with students in a spirit of cooperation, cases may arise in which it may, under this Procedure, determine that a student is unfit to study and that their studies should be suspended or terminated.

2.2. Serious concerns about a student’s fitness to study may present in a number of different ways. The following are some of the more common indicators that may warrant serious concern. (This is not an exhaustive list.)

  • Rapid deterioration in academic performance
  • Poor attendance
  • Lack of engagement with tutors/School
  • Failure to respond to University communications
  • Change in mood
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Social withdrawal
  • Emotional distress
  • The sudden on-set of a physical difficulty or mental health problem
  • Signs of self-harming
  • Drug or alcohol problems
  • Change in behaviour
  • Police report to the University
  • Problems in accommodation
  • An unusually high number of Extenuating Circumstances applications
  • A pattern of behaviour or communications which appear irrational or extremely inconsistent
  • A pattern of unreasonable demands, which appear irrational, inappropriate or inconsistent
  • Failure to submit work or to comply with other requirements of the programme of study.
  • Repeated interruptions of study.
  • General failure to engage with the School, service providers or the University’s procedures, including that for Fitness to Study.

Whilst isolated incidents of the indicators do not usually constitute a case in which to initiate this Procedure, there may be serious cause for concern when there is a sustained pattern, a combination of indicators or a significant single incident.

2.3. Initiation of this Procedure at any Level does not, and must not, by itself be taken to be a justification for not proceeding with the programme of study (e.g. as to submission and marking of work) from either the student or the School’s point of view.

2.4. At all stages of the Procedure, students will be able to retain support from relevant Student Services staff, but this will be limited to personal support for wellbeing. Support from staff of Student Services would not normally extend to representation or advocacy, and Student Services staff cannot attend meetings/hearings as the student’s supporter. Students may nevertheless seek support from the Students’ Union, and the Welfare and Representation Co-ordinator may attend meetings alongside students to offer support.

2.5. In implementing this Procedure, the University will at all times act in accordance with its duty of care and its obligations to students under the Equality Act 2010, including in appropriate cases its obligation to make reasonable adjustments.  In addition to the reasonable adjustments that may be made as a result of a needs assessment based on a known disability, there are in place a number of powers devolved to the School to make adjustments to normal academic provision for physical and mental health issues and special learning needs as well as other personal extenuating circumstances.

3. Fitness to Study Process

Level 1 – Initial concerns: informal intervention within the academic programme

3.1. In the first instance, initial serious concerns about a student’s conduct raising fitness to study issues should normally be raised by, or addressed to, the student’s personal academic tutor or supervisor (PAT/S). If there is good reason for the PAT/S not being contacted about concerns, for instance, if there has been a breakdown in relations, the concerns should be raised with the Dean, who will nominate an alternative member of staff to act as the PAT/S for the purposes of this procedure.

3.2. The PAT/S should consult the Programme Leader on the matter reported and together they may seek advice from the Head of the Student Services and/or the Dean or nominee. The PAT/S will arrange a meeting with the student – or arrange for another authorised member of staff in the academic programme to hold the meeting. The meeting is intended to be supportive in nature, fact finding and non-confrontational in order to encourage open discussion. The meeting should be held as soon as is practicable after the serious concern is identified. The PAT/S shall:

  1. explain the Fitness to Study Procedure and at the meeting give the student a copy;
  2. outline the concerns and provide examples where appropriate;
  3. explain the impact on the student and, if appropriate, on others;
  4. remind the student that fitness to study is essential for successful completion of their studies and encourage the student to co-operate and act to ensure that they are fit to study;
  5. if appropriate, explain the extent of the University’s duty of care to make reasonable adjustments. 

3.3. The content and nature of the discussion will determine possible outcomes. Where appropriate, the PAT/S should propose an action plan to address and remove the concerns and secure the necessary appropriate support if any articulated at the meeting. Examples may include, but are not limited to, recommendations that the student:

  • seek help from Student Services, their GP or another external service;
  • seek advice on matters of concern;
  • reflect on conduct;
  • submit an Extenuating Circumstances form;
  • complete required assessments;
  • attend classes;
  • submit a deferral of study application.

The action plan should clearly allocate any tasks for the student and set an equally clear timetable. The PAT/S shall keep in a confidential file a record (not verbatim) of the meeting, including details of the proposed action plan and provide a copy of this to the student. The student shall be required to indicate whether or not the action plan is agreed.

3.4. The PAT/S should arrange to review the student’s case in a subsequent meeting in an agreed time period, normally of not more than one month. The key points of the review meeting will be given in writing to the student, normally 7 calendar days in advance of the review meeting.

If the concerns about a student’s fitness to study have been significantly reduced and/or eliminated, no further action shall be taken, unless further concerns arise at a later date, in which case a Level 2 intervention may be appropriate.

If the Level 1 intervention is unsuccessful because the student has not attended a meeting, or failed to agree the action plan, or otherwise failed to engage in the procedure, or the case is judged too serious to be addressed at Level 1, Level 2 of the procedure may be invoked.

Level 2 – Formal intervention within the academic programme

3.5. Level 2 is a more formal intervention to be used when Level 1 has not been successful or the student’s conduct or circumstances indicate that further intervention is required. It will normally be initiated by the Programme Leader, with agreement of the relevant Dean. It is recommended that the Programme Leader requests support and/or advice from the Head of the Student Services, if this was not sought during Level 1.

3.6. A Level 2 intervention normally comprises a formal meeting as set out below at paragraph 3.7. The student will be given reasonable written notice of the meeting, together with information on the purpose of the meeting. The student should be requested to provide any necessary detailed information and documentation including, if appropriate, medical evidence.

3.7. The meeting should normally include the Programme Leader (as meeting Chair) and the student’s PAT/S or relevant nominees. Other members of staff may be invited but attendance should be limited to those that can contribute to a possible solution. Invited attendance may include a representative from Student Services and/or Accommodation Services, or other relevant service, if appropriate. A note taker will be appointed to attend.

3.8. The student may be accompanied at a Level 2 meeting by a friend or supporter, as outlined at paragraph 2.4 above.

3.9.  The meeting will normally proceed where the student does not attend or engage in the process, and the meeting will normally consider the case even where the student has not provided requested evidence.

3.10. At the meeting, the student will be informed of the reasons for the serious concern about the student’s fitness to study, including detailed examples if appropriate. The student will be given the opportunity to ask questions and respond. A key purpose is to establish the student’s perception of, or insight into, the situation and how this is impacting on the student’s wellbeing and studies and on other students and staff.

3.11. The conclusions drawn from the content and nature of the discussion will determine possible outcomes. If serious concerns remain, the outcome will normally be the establishment of an action plan to address and remove the serious concerns, including the provision of any appropriate support articulated at the meeting. The meeting may, without prejudice to other conclusions, decide on one or more of the following:

  • That no further action is necessary;
  • That it is necessary to agree an action plan with the student;
  • That, subject to the student’s consent, it is necessary and appropriate for the Programme Leader to consider an adjustment to hours of study;
  • That, subject to the student’s consent, it is necessary and appropriate to agree an interruption from the programme (leave of absence);
  • That it is necessary to make a referral to Level 3 of the procedure;
  • That it is necessary to make a referral to other University procedures, as appropriate, for example the Regulations Governing Discipline or Fitness to Practise;
  • Other actions intended to support the student to successful completion of their studies.

If the student does not agree to the discussed supportive proposed outcome, the member of staff should advise the student that Level 3 action will normally be taken.

3.12. The Chair of the meeting will ensure that there is a written record of the meeting and any determined actions. If an action plan is agreed, it will normally include the specification of desirable behaviour and appropriate expectations, support mechanisms, together with a date for a review meeting. If appropriate, it may also detail the consequences of non-engagement by the student. The action plan may also include a request that the student provide medical evidence in support of their fitness to study.

3.13. The record and action plan will normally be sent to the student within 7 calendar days of the meeting. The student will be asked to agree to the action plan by signing and returning one copy, or by confirming their agreement by University email. A copy of the documentation will also be held on the student’s personal file.

3.14. Review meetings will be convened as agreed. Attendees at review meetings may be different to those in attendance at the original level 2 meeting. The student will have the opportunity to be accompanied by a friend or supporter. A written record of the meeting shall be made and this, together with the outcome, will be given to the student normally within 7 calendar days of the review meeting and will be copied to the student’s file. For monitoring purposes, the Chair or nominee may request regular updates on the student’s progress against the action plan requirements for review.

If the concerns about a student’s fitness to study have been substantially reduced and/or eliminated, it is likely that no further action will require to be taken.  If the student does not abide by the provisions of the action plan, the Chair may convene a review meeting before the planned date, or escalate, as appropriate. If there is insufficient improvement following the Level 2 initial or review meetings, or there is otherwise a failure to engage in the University’s Fitness to Study Procedure or, finally the case is too serious to be addressed at Level 2, Level 3 of the procedure may be invoked.

Level 3 – Fitness to Study Panel

3.15. Level 3 is a formal intervention, normally initiated by the University Secretary, or nominated designated officer, with advice/following consultation with academic staff or staff of Student Services.

3.16. Level 3 of the Fitness to Study Procedure may be initiated if any one or more of the following applies:

  • a student fails to address serious concerns about fitness to study identified at Level 2;
  • a student’s behaviour creates further serious concern beyond that at Level 2;
  • the circumstances presented raise particularly serious issues as to the student’s fitness to study successfully
  • there is evidence of significant adverse impact upon, or risk to, the student or others.

3.17. The University Secretary will request that a Fitness to Study Panel is convened. The Panel will consist of 3 members, one of whom will normally be the Head of Student Services or designated nominee. Two other independent members of staff who have not previously been involved will be appointed, one of whom shall be invited to act as Convener of the Panel.

3.18. The purpose of the Panel is to gather and assess evidence about the student’s fitness to study and to determine appropriate actions. The Convener will determine witnesses to be called upon to give evidence, including such witnesses from the following areas of the University, as are appropriate on the facts of the case:

  • Academic Programme;
  • Residence Life Team in Accommodation;
  • Students’ Union;
  • Student Services.

Secretariat support for the Panel will be provided through the relevant School Manager.

3.19. The student will be given no less than 14 days written notice of the meeting. The notice will inform the student of the purpose of the meeting and, where appropriate, will request from the student detailed information as necessary, including documentary evidence as to fitness to study. The student will be informed of the following:

  • Their right to be accompanied to the meeting by a friend or supporter;
  • Details of the Panel composition and those invited to attend to give evidence;
  • The right to request witnesses to be present at the meeting. The student should provide details of the proposed witness(es) and the nature of the intended evidence they would provide. The Chair will determine whether they are permitted to attend.

Documentation sent to the student and the Panel in advance of the meeting should include:

  • Details of the case, including all evidence and previously agreed action plans;
  • A copy of this Fitness to Study Procedure;
  • Any medical or other evidence provided by the student.

3.20. The Fitness to Study Panel meeting will proceed, where possible, even where the student does not attend or engage in the process. The meeting will consider the case even where the student has not provided requested evidence. The meeting may also proceed if a witness or other invited attendee is unable to attend.

3.21. After review of the case, the Fitness to Study Panel may decide that:

  • no further action is necessary
  • it is necessary to agree an action plan
  • it is necessary to maintain or revise a previous action plan
  • with or without the student’s consent, it is necessary and appropriate to adjust the hours of study – Programme Leader approval will be sought
  • with the student’s consent, it is necessary and appropriate to agree an interruption from the programme (leave of absence) – Programme Leader approval will be sought
  • without the student’s consent, it is necessary and appropriate to suspend the student’s studies
  • with or without the student’s consent, it is necessary to terminate the student’s studies at the University
  •  it is necessary to make a referral to other University procedures, as appropriate, for example the Regulations Governing Discipline or Code of Conduct
  • other actions intended to support the student to successful completion of their studies

3.22. The Convener of the Fitness to Study Panel will ensure that there is a written record of the meeting, and any determined actions. If an action plan is agreed, it will normally include the specification of appropriate actions, including desirable behaviour or specific expectations, support mechanisms together with dates for a review meeting.  Where appropriate, it may also detail the consequences of non-engagement by the student. The action plan may also include a request for the student to provide medical evidence as to fitness to study. 

3.23. For monitoring purposes, the Convener may request regular updates on the student’s progress in accordance with the action plan requirements. An outcome report will be provided to the student as soon as possible after the meeting, outlining the decision of the Panel, together with its reasoning. The outcome will be noted on the student’s personal file.

3.24. If appropriate, review meetings should be convened as agreed. If the student does not abide by the provisions of an action plan, the Convener may convene a review meeting before the planned date, or escalate as appropriate. The Panel and the identity of other attendees may be different to that at the original Level 3 Panel meeting. A review meeting may come to a determination of the case, based on evidence before it at the review meeting, in accordance with paragraph 3.19. 

3.25. Where it has been agreed to terminate a student’s studies at the University or impose an interruption of studies (leave of absence), this will be recorded on the student’s central record.

4. Right of Appeal

4.1. A student wishing to appeal against a decision under the Fitness to Study Procedure should follow the procedure set out below.

4.2. Where the decision against which a student is appealing involves partial or full suspension or termination of studies, the student will not, subject to this paragraph, be permitted to attend University while the appeal is being determined. Students may apply for permission to attend if they can demonstrate that it would be unreasonable to debar them from attending their programme of study pending the appeal. Grounds for such an appeal may include, but are not limited to, a change in circumstances since the Fitness to Study hearing or the fact that the timing of an appeal hearing means that a successful appellant will be prevented from returning to study immediately because of University regulations governing registration. Applications should be made to the University Secretary who may refuse or grant permission to attend the University and may, if granting permission to attend, limit attendance to specific locations and/or times.

4.3. The Fitness to Study Appeal should be lodged within 21 calendar days of the original decision. The application should be in writing and addressed to the University Secretary.

4.4. The appeal against a Fitness to Study outcome may only be made on the following ground(s):

  • There has been demonstrably an irregularity in the Fitness to Study procedure;
  • Evidence has become available that it was not reasonable to present during the original hearing or consideration of the case.

4.5. The appeal application should be accompanied by any supporting documentation and should state which of the above grounds form the basis of the appeal.

4.6. The University Secretary shall judge whether or not, on the face of it, a case exists on the basis of the grounds outlined at paragraph 4.3. In the event that a re-hearing is judged appropriate, the University Secretary shall appoint an Appeal Panel.

4.7. Members of the Appeal Panel shall be drawn from the following:

  • The Deputy Principal (to act as Convener);
  • The Dean of School;
  • A member drawn from outwith the academic staff.

The Appeal Panel shall conduct its proceedings according to the principles of natural justice in that it will seek to act fairly, no person may be a judge in their own case and the appellant shall have access to all the evidence used by the Panel in reaching its decision.

4.8. The appellant shall have the right to appear before the Appeal Panel and to be accompanied by one other person of his or her choice.  Representation external to the University will not be permitted in the context of this Procedure.

4.9. The Convener of the original Fitness to Study Panel concerned with the case shall be invited, prior to the meeting, to submit to the Appeal Panel comments relevant to the case under discussion and may be invited to attend part or all of the meeting of the Appeal Panel at which the case is being considered.

4.10. The Appeal Panel may, in determining the appeal, confirm or vary or quash the original decision. If a student is reinstated to the University on an appeal against suspension or termination of studies, they shall not suffer any loss of time counted towards residence qualifications for a particular course. The student, nevertheless, shall be required to pay appropriate fees, notwithstanding temporary loss of tuition and other facilities in the University.

4.11. The decision of the Appeal Panel shall be final within the University.

5. Independent Review

5.1. The University’s internal procedures having been exhausted, an individual may seek review of his/her case by an independent person, the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO).

5.2. The Ombudsman is independent and their staff will advise whether or not the complaint is one that they can investigate. Normally the student will have to tell the Ombudsman about their complaint within 12 months of first knowing about the problem about which they are complaining, although the Ombudsman may look at complaints outside this limit if they think there is good reason to do so.

5.3. There are some restrictions on what the Ombudsman can investigate. If the complaint is appropriate to their office and is investigated, the Ombudsman’s staff will send details of how this will be done.

5.4. The complaint should be submitted in writing to the Ombudsman, and should include any relevant documents including correspondence with the University and the University’s response to the complaint. This can be sent to the Ombudsman without cost at the freepost address given below. A student may discuss the complaint with an Investigator at the SPSO before deciding to submit.

5.5. The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman has an online complaint form accessible through the website although papers in support of the complaint would still have to be supplied to the Ombudsman by post or other means. The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman can also supply paper complaint forms direct to complainants.

5.6. Further information may be accessed through the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman website or by calling the SPSO office for advice. Contact details are:

Freepost address: “Freepost SPSO” (this is all you need to write on the envelope, and you don't need to use a stamp)

SPSO Freephone: 0800 377 7330

Website address: www.spso.org.uk

6. Suspension of Studies

6.1. At any stage of this procedure, the University Secretary, or properly appointed designate, may place an interim suspension on a student from the University, upon report of serious concerns and pending further investigation.

6.2. Interim suspension means that the student may not be on University property other than for specific appointments which must be agreed in advance, and in writing, between the student and the University Secretary. Subject to QMUSU agreement this interim suspension normally includes the Students’ Union. The University Secretary may determine that an interim suspension is limited to specified areas, activities and facilities of the University.

6.3. Where an interim suspension has been applied, this will be subject to review every two weeks or at key stages as determined within the case management process by the University Secretary.

6.4. Where a student has been subject to an interim suspension for a period of 6 weeks or more, the student has the right to apply in writing to the University Secretary for a review of the interim suspension. The student shall specify the grounds for the review. Subsequent independent reviews may be conducted where a reasonable case may be made that circumstances have changed.

6.5. Throughout a period of suspension, students are not expected to engage with the University or with their studies. The exception to this may be where the student is receiving ongoing therapeutic support from staff of Student Services.

6.6. Normally, imposed periods of suspension under this procedure will be for no more than one year in total. If longer periods of suspension are required, it is recommended that a student’s studies are terminated, and the student is required to re-apply for admission at a later date.

6.7. It will be the student’s responsibility to inform the Student Funding Body (which will be different in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland), sponsor, or any other relevant person/group of any suspension

7. Return to Study

7.1. If the formal outcome of the Fitness to Study case is a period of suspension/ interruption of studies (leave of absence), a return to study review will normally be initiated within a 4 week period of the expected return to study. Where appropriate, students will only be permitted to return from a period of suspension/interruption of studies (leave of absence), after receiving suitable medical or other evidence stating that the student is fit to return to study.

7.2. Normally, a return to study plan will need to be agreed with the student, the authorised member of staff in the academic programme and a representative from Student Services. This should be agreed within one month of the planned return to study. The plan should include any relevant support, including, for example, specific study support, Student Services support and any other support deemed necessary for the student’s successful return to study. The student will be required to comply with all agreed actions in order to remain at the University.

7.3. Following the return to study, regular review meetings should take place – these should be initiated by the authorised member of staff in the academic programme and should include representatives from the Student Services, Residence Life in Accommodation or other service, as appropriate. It is intended that the need for review meetings may cease after an agreed period but, if appropriate, these meetings may continue for the duration of the student’s study.

8. Medical, or other, Evidence

8.1. If concerns are raised about a student’s fitness to study, the student is encouraged to co-operate with any reasonable request to provide medical or other evidence. A student may however decline to co-operate with that request but should be aware of 8.4, below.

8.2. The University will respect medical and other evidence provided by the student, but it is for the University and ultimately a Level 3 Panel to determine the weight to be given to any evidence presented. If, for example, a medical certificate states that a student is fit to study, it is nevertheless for the University and ultimately the Level 3 Panel to determine the weight to be given to the medical evidence in considering all of the evidence in the case.

8.3. It is expected that no cost will be incurred in providing additional evidence.  Where, in exceptional circumstances, costs are incurred in sourcing medical or other evidence, these shall be met by the student, unless otherwise agreed in writing, in advance, by the University.

8.4. If a student does not provide evidence as requested, the University may nevertheless reach a decision on the case. The decision will be based on the available evidence.

9. Conflict of Interest

9.1. Staff of Student Services, or academic staff where appropriate, may offer a student therapeutic or other support during the administration of this procedure. An alternative member of the Student Services may be asked to advise University staff about the Fitness to Study Procedure. Where members of staff have been involved in supporting the student prior to the Fitness to Study procedure, this shall not in itself preclude their involvement in the fitness to Study Procedure, but staff in Student Services will exercise all reasonable care in order to avoid any potential conflict of interest which may arise.  

10. Data Protection

10.1. All information gathered on individuals as part of this Fitness to Study Policy and Procedure will be processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998, or any successor Act.

11. Monitor and Review

11.1. Monitoring of this Fitness to Study Policy and Procedure will be undertaken by the University’s Governance and Quality Enhancement Team and Student Services.

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