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Welfare Support for Students

Student welfare

The following information relates to students studying at our Exeter campuses. For students studying at Penryn, please visit the FXU Wellbeing pages.

Medical emergencies and mental health crisis support

If you are seriously ill, injured, or your health is deteriorating and your life may be at risk call 999 and ask for an ambulance.

If you are unwell or in crisis but not immediately at risk, call NHS 24 on their 24 hour phone line 111.

You may also attend the Accident and Emergency Department (A&E) at the Royal Devon and Exeter (RDE) hospital. The RDE offers support 24/7 for any person with a medical emergency. For students seeking urgent mental health support, A&E staff can quickly arrange for you to have a menial health assessment by a qualified practitioner.

Other sources of mental health support:

Nightline (term time): a confidential listening and information service run by students for students from 8pm– 8am. Their telephone number is on the back of your student ID card, email:

Samaritans: confidential 24/7 emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts. Phone: 116 123, text message: 07725 90 90 90, email:

HOPELineUK: A telephone service staffed by trained professionals who give support, advice and information to young people up to the age of 35 who are worried about how they are feeling, or to anyone who is concerned about a young person: Phone: 0800 068 41 41, Email:, Text: 07786 209697

Out-of-hours welfare advice:

Students seeking welfare support out of hours can contact University Security (Estate Patrol) who are available 24/7 by calling 01392 723999.

You will first speak to a member of our security team (Estate Patrol) who will take further details of your situation. Security staff may be able to provide the support or answers that you need. Where this is not possible and the situation is urgent, they may be able to signpost you to other relevant support services.

This service is not intended in any way to replace the role of the emergency services or other relevant agencies such as GP's or other local NHS provision.

Other useful contacts:

  • Devon and Cornwall Police non-emergency phone contact: 101
  • Devon and Cornwall Police emergency phone contact: 999
  • Fire and Rescue Service phone contact: 999
  • Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (Devon Partnership NHS Trust) phone contact: 01392 411611
  • Guild Wellbeing Info Directory 

The following information relates to students studying at our Exeter campuses. For students studying at Penryn, please visit the FXU Wellbeing pages.

Exeter is a safe city with a low crime rate, but as with any city environment, it’s sensible to be mindful of your safety and personal security at all times, especially at night.

Going Out

  • Avoid isolated places, especially at night.
  • Stick to well-lit and overlooked routes, wherever possible.
  • Try to travel in groups of two or more people. Perhaps ask your friends to join you.
  • If you are going out alone, tell someone where you're going and what time you expect to be back.
  • Enjoy alcohol responsibly and keep track of what you’re drinking. Don’t leave your drink unattended, and never accept drinks from strangers. Alternate alcoholic drinks with water and make sure you have something to eat before going out.
  • Never get into a taxi on the street. Only use a private-hire cab that you have booked by phone.
  • Don’t accept lifts from strangers.


  • If you are cycling, always wear a helmet and reflective clothing and ensure your bike is fitted with lights and a bell.
  • Always lock your bike using a hardened ‘D’-type lock. The cheaper, cable-type locks can be removed relatively easily.
  • Attach the lock through the frame and to a strong structure that is fixed to the ground or a building, whenever possible.
  • If you can, lock the bike in a well-lit location and somewhere with people walking by.
  • Mark your property with your postcode and register it on

Student Safety Scheme

Exeter University runs the Student Safety Scheme: If it’s late, the buses have stopped running, and you’re stranded with no money, you can pay for your Apple Taxi at a later date.

  • Book your Apple Taxi to ‘Estate Patrol’ at Northcote House on campus.
  • One of our Taxis will take you to the Estate Patrol office
  • You sign a docket along with Estate patrol to confirm your journey details & cost
  • Driver waits while you do this & then takes you on to your Halls
  • The University charges you the fare plus £2 to take you back to your Halls

Apple Central Taxis provide this service in conjunction with the University of Exeter, and reminds you that this service is only available during the hours of darkness, and only if you find yourself genuinely stranded with no money.

Students should never walk home alone after a night out. We always put your safety first!

If you find yourself stranded – Give us a call on 01392 666 666

Looking after your emotional health and wellbeing is an important skill both at university and in your everyday life. Building skills which enable you to be more resilient in the face of challenges is an effective way of supporting your wellbeing. We cannot avoid challenges or difficult experiences but we can learn to respond differently to these events.

Students can face a lot of natural challenges during their time at university such as:

  • moving to a new place
  • leaving behind friends/family and familiar surroundings
  • managing finances
  • living independently for the first time
  • meeting new people from a variety of backgrounds
  • adjusting to new routines

Go to ‘My Wellbeing Toolkit’ for information and techniques to help you think about skills which could support you to stay healthy and resilient at university.

At the University of Exeter, we are committed to supporting student carers, and there is a range of information and advice available to help you.

Please see our Widening Participation pages for more information, including details about a Carers Bursary available to EU and UK undergraduate students.

You can also contact Jess Prince, one of our Welfare Caseworkers, for further information.

External support

What is the Health, Wellbeing and Support for Study Procedure (HWSS)?

The HWSS procedure is a supportive procedure that is used when there are concerns about a student’s health and wellbeing. The student may be struggling to either meet academic learning outcomes and course competencies or to manage other aspects of university life, and it is felt these difficulties are not likely to be resolved in a single meeting with support staff.

Why does the University have a HWSS procedure?

Health and wellbeing are crucial ingredients to a successful and fulfilling student experience. However, the University recognises that difficulties with health and wellbeing are very common.  A student’s health and wellbeing may impact on their ability to study, reach their potential and make the most of their time at University.  The HWSS sets out a structure where the difficulties a student may have can be discussed and available support options considered. Then a plan can be put in place to help the student get back on track.

 The overall HWSS aims are to ensure that:

  • The best interests of the student are considered in relation to their personal situation, their health, wellbeing and/or any disability they may be experiencing
  • Students are supported to study and manage their health, wellbeing and current circumstances to the best of their ability, and wherever possible to meet the required learning outcomes and complete their course
  • Students who are experiencing difficulties in relation to their health, wellbeing and/or disability are supported to address their difficulties at the earliest appropriate point
  • Students are able to make informed decisions regarding options available
  • Any reasonable adjustments that may be recommended for  the student  are considered and put in place
  • Staff from Colleges/hubs/departments and from central Support Services work together where appropriate so that students experience a consistent and fair process

The University will aim to ensure that the HWSS procedure is used sensitively, ensuring the student is at the centre of the process, and making all possible steps to minimise additional stress and anxiety.

Who is the HWSS procedure for?

The procedure can be used for all students including undergraduate and postgraduate students, whether they are on full-time or part-time courses.

The only exception is when a student is studying a course that is accredited by a professional body such as HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council), GMC (General Medical Council).  In these cases an alternative procedure is likely to be used, such as Fitness to Practice.

The procedure may be used when there are ongoing concerns about a student’s academic progress and/or behaviour or ability to function appropriately at university. These concerns could be the result of mental or physical ill health or disability.

How is the HWSS procedure structured?

There are 3 levels to the HWSS procedure:

  • Level 1 is when there are concerns about a student’s health/disability/wellbeing that may be affecting their ability to progress academically or engage in the University experience, and that may require ongoing action and review.
  • Level 2 is used when there are continued concerns that were not being resolved by Level 1 meetings, or where the concerns about a student’s health and wellbeing are more significant and a higher level of support or response from the University is needed.
  • Level 3 is where there is serious concern about a student’s health, disability, wellbeing, behaviour or safety, and/or their ability to cope at university. In most cases Level 3 would only be used when all options of support have been exhausted and when a student has not engaged with recommendations at Level 2.

How will I be contacted/informed about the HWSS?

HWSS (Level 1 and 2) can be requested by any member of staff who knows the student.  This can be college support staff, academic staff, residence life team leaders, or Wellbeing Services member of staff. HWSS (Level 1 and 2) can be requested by any member of staff who is involved with the student.  This can be college support staff, academic staff, residence life team leaders, or Wellbeing Services member of staff. The meetings themselves are convened by the Education Support Advisors (Welfare), who decide whether the process is appropriate for the student. Best practice is that students will have been informed about the HWSS procedure before they are invited. Students will be invited to a meeting either by email, telephone or during a face-to-face discussion. An E mail invitation will be sent for Level 2.The email will explain what the meeting is, and inform the student that it is a supportive procedure.  The decision to hold a Level 3 meeting is made by the Head of Student Services, Head of Wellbeing, or Head of Professional Services (Penryn).

Students will be informed by email or letter about the need for a Level 2 or Level 3 meeting  at least 2 working days before the meeting is due to be held.

Students are encouraged to prioritise attendance at these meetings. However, there may be occasions where the student has a prior commitment that cannot be changed ie medical appointment. In these circumstances every effort will be made to offer an alternative date to meet.

Who will attend the meetings?

Level 1 meetings are fairly informal and attendance of staff members is kept to a minimum. The Education Support Advisor (Welfare) will attend, plus other relevant staff members.

Students will be informed who is attending and the reason for their attendance. Occasionally a student may wish to request that a different member of staff attend the meeting. This request will be accommodated if possible.

Attendance at a Level 2 meeting could include staff that have an academic or support role with the student, as well as someone who holds the appropriate level of responsibility and decision-making regarding possible options for the student. Members of staff from Wellbeing Services may attend.

Level 3 meetings will often be attended by the same people at Level 2 (or appropriate qualified staff). It will be chaired by the Head of Wellbeing Services or nominee.  An invited GP/medic may also attend these meetings.  At Level 3 the members of the panel may meet initially prior to the student’s attendance. The role of the initial meeting is to present key information to the Chair and to consider potential options.  Final decisions are made at a subsequent meeting when the student is present.

All meetings will be held in a quiet, private space.

If a student does not attend the pre-arranged and agreed meeting, the meeting may continue in the student’s absence.

What will happen during a meeting?

The meeting is likely to include:

  • An introduction by the person running the meeting, and a summary of why the meeting has been called. 
  • An opportunity for the student to explain their situation and/or give an update on what has been happening to them.  Please note that the student doesn’t have to share in-depth personal information in the meeting.  However, it can be helpful to share information about current health and impact on studies and life so that the student’s individual circumstances can be taken into account. 
  • Consideration of a student’s individual learning plan (ILP) and discussion about any adjustments that might need to be added to the ILP, or that due to learning outcomes are not deemed reasonable.
  • Exploration of support options/networks available to the student.
  • Formulation of a plan about how to move forward.
  • Clarification of next steps (for example setting a review date, clarifying what happens if the student isn’t able to meet the agreed plan).

What will happen after the meeting?

A summary of the meeting and agreed actions will be written up and a copy sent to the student and any other participants no more than 5 working days after the meeting.  A copy of this report will be kept in a confidential space within the College and/or other relevant University team notes system. A future review meeting may be arranged at that point.

Will the HWSS process ever recommend that a student withdraws from the University?

The aim of the HWSS procedure is to support students to remain on their programme of study wherever possible. However, it is acknowledged that there are occasions where all options of support have been exhausted and the student is not well enough to continue.  In such instances the procedure may recommend interruption from studies as the best support outcome for the circumstances.

A student can choose to agree with the recommendation to interrupt or they may decide to continue and risk not passing their academic year. There are the rare occasions when all support options have been considered and it is felt the student is too unwell and the only option is to require the student to interrupt or withdraw. This outcome can only be agreed at Level 3 of the HWSS procedure. 

The University is committed to ensuring that the HWSS procedure is used sensitively, that the student is fully involved and that all possible steps are taken to minimise additional stress and anxiety whilst ensuring the appropriate support is put in place.

The full HWSS procedure can be found at

The University of Exeter is an inclusive community, where everyone has the right to be treated with respect. Harassment, bullying, intimidation and discrimination go against all we stand for and will not be tolerated. If you've experienced or witnessed any of the above we encourage you to report it and to get the support you might need.

Sexual assault/harassment/abuse and consent are often discussed in the media and are issues that affect many people. It is important that you know what these terms mean and that you can easily recognise if you, or someone you know, has been impacted by these issues. There is a lot of support available across the University whether you have recently been affected by these issues or you were affected by these issues in the past.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is when a person is forced to engage in sexual acts against their will. This could include touching, looking at sexual images or forcing someone to watch sexual activity and usually refers to an act against a child (or someone under 18) rather than adults.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is when someone is verbally abused in a sexual nature. It covers behaviours such as sexual coercion, unwanted touching or kissing, persistent pestering for dates/sex or catcalling/verbally harassing someone.

Sexual assault

Sexual assault is an act of physical, psychological or emotional violation in the form of a sexual act. Sexual assault can be committed by any person no matter what their relationship to the victim (i.e. a husband can sexually assault his wife or vice a versa). Consent is key to determining if the actions were sexual assault or not.

Rape is when a man intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth with his penis against their will or without their consent. It is a criminal offence and a form of sexual assault.

Date rape is when a person uses drugs to sedate a person in order to have sex with them.

What is consent?

Consent is when the people engaged in a sexual act have both freely agreed to the act taking place. Sex without consent is rape. Consent can never be assumed. For example, the need for seeking consent still applies:

  • If you are married
  • If you have had sexual relationships with the person before, or are in a relationship with the person
  • If the person previously gave consent but later changed their mind

Having conversations about consent

Talking about consent doesn’t have to be a difficult conversation. If you are having sexual relationships it is important to be able to discuss these issues with your partner.

How can you check you have consent?

Here are some things to think about before you engage in sexual relationships with a partner:

  • Do you know the person definitely wants to engage in sexual activities?
  • Have you asked the person what sexual activity they are happy engaging in?
  • Is the other person capable of giving consent – are they under the influence of drugs/alcohol, do they have a mental health condition or learning disability that could affect their ability to give consent?
  • Has the person actively agreed to engage in sexual activity? Silence does not guarantee that they consent.

Take a look at the video ‘Tea and Consent’ created by Thames Valley Police which further explains consent.

The University of Exeter developed a quiz discussing consent and other issues which you may have taken when registering.


It is both parties’ responsibility to get consent before engaging in sexual activities. Once you have asked the person if they are happy to proceed, continue to check they are comfortable in engaging in each new type of sexual activity. Look for facial expressions and body language – do they seem eager and comfortable? If not, ask them if they are ok and if you are in doubt – stop! Make sure you know you have consent rather than assume it. Someone may do nothing to stop intercourse or verbally say no, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are giving consent – they may not feel they are able to say ‘no’. It is better to actively check rather than make assumptions.

Take a look at the campaigns the University is involved in around these issues on the Exeter Speaks Out pages.

Help and Support

If you have experienced any of these issues there are a variety of options for support and advice within the University and externally.

Report an incident:

If you want to report an incident that has occurred on University grounds or is related to the University of Exeter, see the Exeter Speaks Out website.

In an emergency, when you feel at immediate risk, please dial 999.

Alternatively, you can contact the local police on 101 if it is not an emergency.

Wellbeing support:

If you want emotional support for a recent or historic incident but don’t want to report it to the police at this time, you can contact the Wellbeing Service who can help you to find the right support for you. You can contact them by phone on 01392 724381, email at or by visiting them at Reed Mews Wellbeing Service, Streatham Campus, Exeter.

For Penryn students please contact the Wellbeing Service at FXU.

You may also wish to contact one of the following specialised services for support:

  • The Oak Centre, Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), 0300 3034626
    • Devon & Cornwall SARC, run by the NHS, offers immediate medical care and support following rape or sexual abuse from its centres in Exeter, Plymouth and Truro. As well as medical care, they offer forensic medical examination, access to crisis workers, sexual health, guidance through the police reporting process (optional) and onwards referral to an Independent sexual violence advisor and counselling services.  People can access the service via the 24/7 helpline or via this quick get help! form 

  • Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Services, 01392 204174
  • The Willow Centre Truro, 01872272059
  • National Rape Crisis Line, 080 802 9999
  • The Rape and Sexual Abuse Line. 0808 800 0188

The Truth Project:

If you have experienced childhood sexual abuse you may wish to participate in the Truth Project which enables survivors to share their experiences in a supportive and confidential setting. For more information visit the website.

If your health is affecting your studies

If your mental or physical health or wellbeing is having an effect on your ability to study or your studying is creating health problems for you, then our helpful and experienced Welfare Advisors (Education Support Advisors for Welfare, or ESAWs) are available to talk to you in a confidential and non-judgemental way about any issues you feel you may need support with.   

Please note that:

  • For any general queries relating to your academic study you should make contact with your personal tutor, then your College Info Point (or Doctoral College PGR Support Team for PGR students). 
  • If you have a health condition or disability (including specific learning difficulties and Autism Spectrum Conditions) we suggest that you also contact AccessAbility, who can discuss support options with you such as teaching and exam adjustments.
  • If you have a mental health condition we suggest you also contact the Mental Health team in order to discuss support options.

How to get in touch with your Welfare Advisor

Welfare Advisors are available via each of the Info Points and offer advice and support, as well as signposting to specialist advice, support services and self-help materials. This support is given through an initial Welfare Meeting or through the Health, Wellbeing & Support for Study (HWSS) process

Advisors can offer telephone, video and face-to-face appointments. If you’ve any queries at all about how we can help please do get in touch and we’d be please to help. You can contact us by email using the appropriate address below: 

Building One
Peter Chalk
St Luke's


Welfare Consultants (Streatham and St Luke's Campuses)

Welfare Consultants co-ordinate support for students with complex, often immediate, needs who may also be reluctant to seek assistance or engage with services. Sometimes students are struggling to continue with their studies, and to fully participate in university life, because of serious health or welfare concerns.

Wherever possible the Consultants signpost students to the appropriate support agencies, but will also assist staff in managing individual crises and critical situations.  Whilst this is not an emergency service, the Consultants can help by ensuring that challenging situations are managed professionally and consistently across all departments within the University. The Consultants work closely with university staff to ensure that the student has access to appropriate and timely help and support.

Each case is different and the Consultants' response is based on individual need. The Consultants work alongside staff in academic schools, liaise with colleagues in Student Services and refer to local statutory services. When there are health issues that are impacting upon academic performance, Consultants can also advise staff on the Health, Wellbeing and Support for Study Procedure.

Streatham Campus

Please note that the Student Welfare Consultants at Streatham accept referrals from University and Guild staff only; students who think that they may need support from a Consultant are encouraged to talk to their ESAW (Welfare Advisor) in their Hub.  The Welfare Advisor will then make contact with the Welfare Consultants Service if necessary.

St. Luke’s Campus

Due to the high number of students on a regulated programme, the St. Luke’s Welfare Consultants take referrals from both students and staff members. You can contact the St. Luke’s Welfare Consultants on 


Residence Life Team (Streatham and St Luke's Campuses)

Residence Life Teams, with an in-depth knowledge of the support and wellbeing services on offer at the University, provide support to students living in University accommodation.

Living away from home in a new city (or country) can bring new challenges, so every student living in our accommodation has access to a Residence Life Mentor who has experience of student life.

You can speak to them confidentially about whatever is on your mind. They can answer questions, help with any problems, and keep you up-to-date with what’s going on in the University and city.

Overnight, members of the Residence Life Night Patrol support Security by visiting residences. If you have a problem late at night contact security and they will arrange for a member of the team to help.

Two full-time Residence Life Advisors lead the Residence Life Teams and are involved with student welfare across all the residences. 

‌N.B. We will always treat your personal information with sensitivity and respect. Please read our confidentiality statement for further information.

Read more about the Residence Life team here.