Under 18 Policy and Process
1.1 The University of Exeter is committed to equal opportunities and all applications are considered on their individual merits.
1.2 Occasionally the University admits students who are under the age of 18 years. In most cases this will be a very temporary situation, as the student will be approaching their eighteenth birthday at the time they register for University. These students and their parents/ guardians should under that the University predominantly admits students who are over the age of 18 years and that they will be entering an adult environment. The University treats all its students as independent, mature individuals and students who are under the age of 18 years will be treated in the same way.
1.3 The usual personal and academic support arrangements will apply to students who are under 18 years. This normally includes the allocation of a personal tutor and a comprehensive range of specialist student services.
1.4 However, the University acknowledges that anyone under the age of 18 living in England is legally a child and recognises that students under the age of 18 may therefore have additional needs in relation to their wellbeing and require additional support.
1.5 This policy should be read in conjunction with the University’s Safeguarding framework.
1.6 The University of Exeter is not acting in loco parentis.
2.1 The University cannot assume full parental responsibility for a student under the age of 18. In applying to the University of Exeter, and accepting an offer, applicants and their parent/ guardian are accepting the university is an adult environment. Our students are expected to behave like adults and to assume adults levels of responsibility.
2.2 In the case of students joining the University before their 18th birthday, the University does have an enhanced duty of care as such students are regarded as minors under English law. There are both legal and practical consequences. The following guidance seeks to ensure that the respective responsibilities of the University and parent or guardian in relation to the applicant are clear.
2.3 The University does not normally admit students under 16 years old.
2.4 For some programmes it is a requirement of the relevant professional body that students are aged 18 or above when they enrol. For BMBS Medicine and MSc Nursing we will not admit students under 17 years old, and all students must be 18 years old by the end of January within the first year of the programme. For BSc Diagnostic Radiography, students will need to be 18 by the start of the third term.
2.5 It is a condition of admission to the University that the parent or guardian of any student who is under the age of 18 years, on registration, confirms, by providing a signed copy of the Acknowledgement Form, their acceptance of the arrangements set out in this Policy.
3.1 Where an applicant will be under the age of 18 on 1 September for the year they are joining, the University will require the applicant’s parent or guardian to sign the Parent/Guardian Acknowledgement Form, annexed at Appendix A, for students under the Age of 18, where they are accepting an offer from the University.
3.2 Completing this Acknowledgement Form confirms the parent/ guardian has read and understood the nature of the obligations which the University owes to its students under the age of 18 and the extent of the services available to them.
3.3 No applicant under the age of 18 will be eligible to be registered at the University until the Parent/Guardian Acknowledgement Form has been signed and returned.
3.4 Where a student is an international student and their parents remain overseas, the University requires the details of a guardian who is based in the UK.
3.5 The University will only be able to register a student once they have provided details of their UK based guardian. If, however they do not have a contact in the UK, who is willing and able to act as a guardian then there are agencies who will, for a fee, make arrangements for them. The Association of Educational Guardians for International Students (AEGIS) inspects and provides accreditation to guardianship organisations in the UK in line with current UK legislation.
3.6 Notwithstanding the need for a parent/ guardian, the University will correspond with students, and not with parents or guardians, unless the University receives express written permission from the student or there is a medical, criminal or similar emergency.
3.7 Why is a UK guardian necessary? People under the age of 18 are classified as children under English law. This means that their parents or legal guardians must make decisions on their behalf and hold legal responsibility for their protection and safety while their child is in the UK. The University must therefore be able to contact a UK-based guardian who has been nominated by parents/legal guardians who can act on their behalf and be the liaison between the University and the parents if an emergency situation arises or there are serious concerns for the health or wellbeing of the person under 18.
3.8 Any adult can be a guardian. Whoever is taking on the role of guardian should ensure that:
- They will be available for contact throughout the period that the child is under 18
- They understand that they will be contacted in case of emergency situations where they will be expected to liaise directly with the parents/legal guardians and may be expected to attend the University or other location where the incident has occurred where this is necessary.
- That they may need to arrange for alternative accommodation at short notice should the University be closed due to an emergency or in the unlikely event that the student is suspended from the University due to breaches in regulations etc.
- That they would need to take responsibility for any travel activities that the child arranges while in the country.
4. Parent/ Guardian Acknowledgement Form
Set out below is an explanation of the elements covered in the Acknowledgement Form.
4.1 Parental responsibilities: As noted above, the University is not able to take on parental responsibility for students under the age of 18. Students who are under the age of 18 will be required to provide proof of a UK-based parent or guardian who is willing to be contacted in an emergency. Students who do not have a suitable relative in the UK will be required to register with and pay for a professional guardianship service. Students will be required to demonstrate that their guardianship contract covers the entire period until they become 18.
4.2 Contracts: As a student who is under the age of 18 cannot enter into legal contracts, The University requires a student’s parents/guardians to honour all obligations under any contracts that the student enters into the University prior to his or her eighteenth birthday (e.g. Payment of tuition and accommodation fees due to the University). A person under the age of 18 does not have full legal capacity to enter into contracts, to give valid consent or to hold office in student clubs and societies.
4.3 Student Accommodation: Parents and guardians should recognise that residential accommodation offered by the University is generally intended for the use of adults and no special arrangements are put in place for students who are under the age of 18. The Terms and Conditions of Residence contain specific clauses in relation to how the University will form a contract with a student aged under 18 this includes when there is a right to terminate if the Agreement is in place before a student reaches 18.
4.4 Academic Course Content: Academic programmes are designed and validated to be delivered to students over the age of 18 years. Therefore, they may contain teaching materials that are 18-rated. If students and their parents/ guardians are concerned about the content of the programme they wish to enrol on they are advised to discuss the content of the programme with the Programme Leader. As part of the admission process, the relevant departmental Admissions Tutor will be consulted to ensure that they and the Head of Department are satisfied that the content of any academic programme would be appropriate for students under the age of 18. This includes field trips and placements, where these activities would occur at a time when the student would be under 18 year’s old.
4.5 Field Trips: Courses may involve compulsory or optional field trips, excursions or other periods of study away from the University campus. The University is not able to take any additional responsibility for a student who is under the age of 18 in relation to such activities. Unless indicated otherwise, by signing the consent form the parent or guardian gives consent for the student to take part in these activities on that basis. Risk assessments are carried out before all field trips and provision is made for inclusion of under 18s where possible. Participation in some activities may be limited.
4.6 Evening Lectures: Like most universities we operate extended teaching hours, so lectures and contact time with tutors could extend past 6:30. The University cannot undertake to supervise any student travelling home either later into the evening or early morning.
4.7 Sale of alcohol and other restricted goods and services: It is illegal for alcohol and other restricted goods or services to be sold to, or bought by, students who are under the age of 18. The University will take reasonable steps to seek to ensure that the law is not broken in relation to licensed premises under the University’s control but cannot undertaken to supervise any individual student.
4.8 Holding Office: Students who are under the age of 18 are encouraged to join University or Student Guild/ Union societies but are not able to hold office until after their 18th birthday (this is because Officers can carry legal responsibilities). Their participation in certain activities may be limited.
4.9 Relationships with staff: The University believes the professional relationship between a student and a member of staff is an important part of the student’s educational development. To ensure that students maximise their learning experience, it is vital that trust and confidence exist between staff and students.
The University discourages consensual relationships between staff and students (irrespective of the students age) in the learning environment and in all areas of support, guidance and administration, and regards it as unprofessional for a member of staff to actively seek to initiate such a relationship, or to pursue such a relationship without regard to the full range of issues or problems that may ensue.
Under the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2003, it is a criminal offence for any person in a position of trust (which includes members of University staff) to engage in sexual activity with someone who is under 18 years old.
4.8 Placements: Where a student who is under 18 is required to undertake a placement as part of the programme of study, appropriate arrangements will be made with the workplace to safeguard the student and to ensure compliance with relevant legislation, (such as Health and Safety and Working Time Regulations).
4.9 Provision of IT services: The University offers email and unregulated internet services for all its students. These services are provided on an unsupervised basis. Students are expected to act in an adult and responsible manner when using these facilities and are required to abide by the University’s Regulations Relating to the Use of Information Technology Facilities.
4.10 Non-academic Activities: Non-academic activities - a student is responsible for informing the organisers of non-academic activities in which they wish to participate that they are under the age of 18 years. In such cases the organiser will undertake a risk assessment and discuss with the student any particular concerns that arise, which may result in the student not being permitted to participate, or only with the express consent of the parent/guardian. The organiser will make any necessary special arrangements if required.
4.11 Data Protection: Although those under 18 are regarded as children under the law, they still have the right under the Data Protection Act for information about them not to be disclosed without their consent. This means that the University is not able to give information to parents regarding the student's progress, results or most other personal circumstance. However, if the student fails to pay any sums agreed on contracts, then it may be necessary to disclose this to any guarantor and possibly to a debt collection agency.
4.12 Notification: The relevant academic department, professional services and college personnel will be notified, prior to registration, of any student who will be under the age of 18 on entry to the University. Teaching and other staff will not routinely be made aware of a student’s age. A departmental risk assessment will be undertaken to ensure that appropriate safeguarding is in place for the individual student on their course. Once the student reaches the age of 18 this policy will no longer apply. At this point the student will become liable and responsible with regard to all matters.
5.0 Roles and Responsibilities
5.1 The Admissions Team are responsible for ensuring that any applicant under 18 for the year they are joining receives a Parent/Guardian Acknowledgement Form and that it is signed by the parent or guardian where they are accepting an offer.
5.2 In the event that the form is not signed a further reminder will be sent. A student will not be able to register without the completed form.
5.3 The Admissions Team will liaise with the relevant Hub team to inform the relevant academic and professional services colleagues, prior to registration, of any student who will be under the age of 18 on entry to the University.
5.4 The relevant Director of Faculty Operations (or their delegate) will be responsible for ensuring a departmental risk assessment is undertaken to ensure that appropriate safeguarding is in place for the individual student on their course, including any field trips. Once the student reaches the age of 18 this policy will no longer apply.
5.5. Faculties are responsible for informing Admissions, prior to 1 September each year, if there are any programmes which can no longer accept under 18s and for providing a rationale for this.
Parent/Guardian Acknowledgment form applicants under the age of 18
Occasionally the University admits students who are under the age of 18 years . In most cases this will be a very temporary situation, as the student will be approaching their eighteenth birthday. The University is an adult environment and treats all its students as independent, mature individuals and students who are under the age of 18 years will be treated in the same way. The usual personal and academic support arrangements will apply to students who are under 18 years.
However, the University acknowledges that anyone under the age of 18 living in England is legally a child and that some legal restrictions apply to that cohort e.g. prohibition on the consumption of alcohol on licensed premises and the sale/supply of videos with a British Board of Film Classification of 18 years of age.
The University is not able to take on the usual rights, responsibilities and authority that parents have in relation to a child, and it will not act in loco parentis in relation to students who are under the age of 18 years.
A person of 16 or 17 has the status to enter into necessary contracts for education and accommodation but until their 18th birthday will not be legally competent to enter into all legal contracts. In circumstances where a person must be aged 18 or over to be legally competent to enter into a contract the University requires a student’s parents to honour all obligations (under any contracts with the University) that the student enters into prior to his or her 18th birthday. By signing the enclosed pro-forma, the parent agrees to this.
Parents should recognise that residential accommodation offered by the University is generally intended for the use of adults and that, save in exceptional circumstances, special arrangements cannot be made for students who are under the age of 18 years.
Programmes may involve compulsory or optional field trips, excursions or other periods of study away from the University. Subject to the University’s duties under health & safety law, the University is not able to take any additional responsibility for a student who is under the age of 18 years in relation to such activities.
It is illegal for alcohol to be sold to or bought by students who are under the age of 18 years. The University will take reasonable steps to seek to ensure that the law is not broken in relation to licensed premises under the University’s control but cannot undertake to supervise any individual student. The Guild of Students is responsible for ensuring that appropriate arrangements are in place for its own licensed premises.
Students who are under 18 years are not allowed to hold office, for example, they may not be secretary or treasurer to a sports club or other students’ association.
Relationships with staff
Under the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000, it is a criminal offence for any person in a position of trust (which may include members of University staff) to engage in sexual activity with someone who is under 18 years.
As a matter of law in England, a person under the age of 18 is a child. The University will report any suspicions or allegations of abuse of children to the appropriate Social Services officer. Any such suspicions or allegations will be reported to the Designated Safeguarding Officer at the University who will contact the appropriate authorities.
The University will notify the relevant education and residences colleagues on registration, of any student who will be under the age of 18 years on entry to the University. (Teaching and other staff will not routinely be made aware of a student’s age).
It is the University’s usual policy that it deals with students (with whom it has a contractual relationship) and not with parents. This approach will also apply to students who are under the age of 18 years. The University will therefore correspond with students, not parents.
Students who have not attained the age of 18 can have their refusal to receive medical treatment overridden by parents and hence, emergency contact details must be provided by students or parents prior to the student’s arrival at the University. However, please note that a child from the age of 16 is entitled to consent to medical treatment, and that such consent cannot be overruled by parents.
The below section needs to be completed by the parent/guardian of the applicant.
Please return your completed form to the Admissions Office at firstname.lastname@example.org within 14 days of the date of this email.
- Full Name of Applicant:
- UCAS Personal ID Number:
- Exeter Reference Number:
- Course Applied For:
I hereby confirm that I have read and accept the conditions outlined in the "Policy for Students under the Age of 18 Years" alongside the Acknowledgement Form document provided by the University. I accept that the University will not act in loco parentis should the above applicant be admitted to the University of Exeter.
Name of signatory (parent/guardian):
Relationship to applicant: