Confidentiality is an important aspect of helping students in difficulty. Please consider the following information carefully.

Prioritise discussing confidentiality with the student. However do not promise absolute confidentiality. Explain to the student that in ‘exceptional circumstances’, e.g. if the student is a risk to themselves or others, confidentiality may have to be breached.

Information about a student’s health is sensitive under the data protection act.

Sensitive data about a student can only be shared (within and outside of the university), with the student’s ‘explicit consent’. Consent needs to be either written or a record of the conversation with the student needs to be made.

Therefore do not disclose personal information about students to anyone inside or outside the University without the student’s explicit consent, (except in ‘exceptional circumstances’).

When a student asks you not to pass on their information and therefore refuses to give consent, it is important to document this and to ensure the student is informed of how this may affect the amount of support the university can offer.

‘What if’ conversations with colleagues can be a very effective way to consider the student’s situation or needs while maintaining the student’s anonymity.

A student may be accessing other support within or outside of the university. Each support service will have their own guidelines on confidentiality. These guidelines will influence the information these services may be able to share with you.

It is important to remember that you cannot communicate with parents without the student’s explicit consent. You can inform parents of the University support services available to students experiencing difficulties, suggesting that they could encourage their son or daughter to access them.

Further advice and guidelines on disclosure and confidentiality are available at on our Data Protection pages.