Student Emergency Contact Protocol 2019/20

The University of Leicester is introducing a new protocol for the use of Student Emergency Contact information for 2019/20.

1. Nominating an Emergency Contact

1.1. The University requires all students to nominate and provide details of an Emergency Contact when registering for their course. Students can nominate the person of their choice to be their Emergency Contact, it does not have to be their Next of Kin, provided that the person nominated is over the age of 18. For the majority of students the Emergency Contact is likely to be a parent or guardian, but could also be a sister, brother, spouse, partner, or another relative, or friend.

1.2. Emergency Contact information is held on the University’s student records system, in accordance with the University’s Student Information Privacy Notice and relevant UK data protection legislation, and may be used by the University without consent in extreme circumstances in the student’s ‘vital interests’, or with consent where there is other serious cause for concern.

1.3. Before nominating their Emergency Contact, students should obtain the person’s permission to be an Emergency Contact, and ensure that the person is aware they have been nominated and that their contact details will be given to the University.

1.4. It is essential that Emergency Contact details are kept up-to-date. Students are required to update these details whenever necessary to record any changes, and to review them annually through the process of re-registration. Students can review and update the details at any time by logging into MyStudentRecord.

1.5. Nominating an Emergency Contact and providing details is mandatory for all students; it is not possible to complete student registration unless this information has been provided in MyStudentRecord.

1.6. Students are also asked annually through the registration process to consent to the University using their Emergency Contact details in situations where there are serious concerns about the student’s health, safety or wellbeing. Students can also review and update their consent at any time by logging into MyStudentRecord.

1.7. Emergency Contact details for students under the age of 18 are obtained from a student’s parent or guardian prior to the student registering for their course, through an Applicant Consent Form, in line with the University’s Under 18s Policy. Students under the age of 18 do not have access to change or update their Emergency Contact details themselves in MyStudentRecord until/unless they reach the age of 18 whilst a registered student.

2. Use of Emergency Contact details

2.1. A student’s Emergency Contact details will only be used in exceptional circumstances by the University, and only in accordance with this protocol.

2.2. For students under the age of 18, the University is obliged to contact the student’s parent or guardian or other Emergency Contact in certain circumstances, and will do so in line with the University’s Under 18s Policy.

2.3. Primarily, the University may use Emergency Contact details in extreme circumstances in the student’s ‘vital interests’ without requiring consent, where the University has justifiable concerns for the life of the student.

2.4. Secondly, the University may also make contact with the nominated person in other situations where there are serious concerns about the student’s health, safety or wellbeing and where it may be in the student’s best interests to do so, if the student has consented to this.

2.5. In the event of a suspected or confirmed death of a student, it is usually the responsibility of the police to contact Next of Kin. In such circumstances, the University will pass the Emergency Contact details, including the relationship of the contact to the student as the contact may not be their Next of Kin, to the police or other emergency services to assist them in this, but will not make initial contact.

2.6. Any use of Emergency Contact details, whether in the student’s ‘vital interests’ or through consent where there is other serious cause for concern, will be through the relevant authorisation procedures below.

2.7. The University may become aware of concerns regarding an individual student through a range of routes, including:

  • The student accessing support through the University’s Student Support Services;
  • The student being known to the University’s Cause for Concern Group;
  • A member of University Accommodation, departmental or other staff raising a concern;
  • A fellow student raising a concern;
  • The University being made aware of a student’s involvement in an accident or other incident by the emergency services.

3. Use of Emergency Contact details in a student’s ‘vital interests’

3.1. Primarily, the University may use Emergency Contact details in extreme circumstances in the student’s ‘vital interests’ without requiring consent, where the University has justifiable concerns for the life of the student, such as:

  • When the University is aware a student has been admitted to hospital as an emergency or in what may be a life-threatening condition (note the University is not always aware of hospital admissions);
  • When serious illness (including mental ill-health) pose a risk to the life of the student;
  • When the University believes there is significant risk to the student’s safety or serious threat to their life;
  • Potentially when a student is missing, provided that there are no reasons for believing that this would increase the risk to the student.

3.2. Where there is justifiable concern for the student’s ‘vital interests’, the matter will be referred:

  • To the Director of Student Life during normal office hours Monday to Friday, who will authorise contact being made with the student’s Emergency Contact; this decision can be escalated to the Academic Registrar or Registrar as required.
  • To the University’s Security Office outside of normal office hours; Security will contact the senior staff above.

3.3. Contact will normally be made by the Head of Student Support Services or by an individual service head (Head of Wellbeing, Welfare or AccessAbility).

4. Use of Emergency Contact details in other situations of serious concern

4.1. Secondly, the University may also make contact with the nominated person in other situations where there are serious concerns about the student’s health, safety or wellbeing and where it may be in the student’s best interests to do so. Such contact will only be made if the student has given their consent for this through the registration process in MyStudentRecord. Students can also review and update their consent at any time by logging into MyStudentRecord. Such circumstances may include:

  • When a student is experiencing serious physical or mental ill-health, or there are concerns about behaviour that might indicate the student is seriously unwell, or there is evidence of significant self-harm or addiction;
  • When the University is aware a student has been admitted to hospital in a serious but non-life-threatening condition; in such circumstances the University may also pass the Emergency Contact details to the emergency services so that they can provide support;
  • When a student is prevented from engaging with their course for a significant period and is not able to submit a request to suspend their studies themselves, e.g. as a result of hospitalisation or detention, so that their Emergency Contact may act on their behalf.

4.2. The University will not inform the Emergency Contact in relation to every concern raised about a student, but only after due consideration of the nature of the concern and the severity of the situation.

4.3. Where such serious concerns are raised regarding a student’s health, safety or wellbeing, these should be referred to the Head of Student Support Services, who will:

  • Review the concern raised and, consulting with colleagues as appropriate (e.g. to see what support the student is currently accessing), assess the severity of the situation;
  • Where possible, consult with, or ask Student Support Services colleagues to consult with, the student to assess their state of wellbeing;
  • Verify whether the student has consented to their Emergency Contact being contacted in situations where there are serious concerns about the student’s health, safety or wellbeing;
  • Authorise contact being made with the Emergency Contact if the student has consented, and if the severity of concern for the student’s health, safety or wellbeing indicates that this would be in the student’s best interests.

4.4. Contact will normally be made by the Head of Student Support Services or by an individual service head (Head of Wellbeing, Welfare or AccessAbility).

4.5. Where a student is prevented from engaging with their course for a significant period and is not able to submit a request to suspend their studies themselves, e.g. as a result of hospitalisation or detention, this will be identified through the University’s Attendance Management System, or may be notified to the Student Records team by the student’s department, if the student has made contact. Professional services staff in the student’s department will consult the Head of Student Support Services or their nominated deputy (e.g. to ascertain whether contact has already been made with the student’s Emergency Contact) and obtain the Head of Student Support Services’ authorisation to make contact.

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