University Policies

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 called by any member of staff who is appropriately trained and involved with the student.  This can be college support staff, academic staff, residence life team leaders, or Wellbeing Services member of staff. 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 person who has called the meeting 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 considered by another appropriate member of staff.

Attendance at a Level 2 meeting would include any 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 Head of Student Support or an Education and Student Experience Business Partner.  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 debate potential options.  Final decisions are made after the smaller meeting when the student is present.

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

If a student does not attend a pre-arranged and agreed meeting the panel will decide whether to reconvene with the student present, or whether it is in the student’s best interests to continue with the meeting 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

Students may disclose sexual violence to various parties - members of staff from the University, FX Plus, the Guild or FXU, fellow students or family members. To ensure that there is a consistent and comprehensive response to  disclosures, the University has developed a protocol. A copy of the protocol can be found here:

Where possible, to ensure consistency of approach, students are encouraged to make contact with the Single Point of Contact (SPOC) for each our main sites. This will be the Head of Student Services at our Exeter campuses and the Director of Student Services (FXPlus) at Cornwall campuses. If there is an immediate need for a coordinated response out of hours, Estate Patrol holds details of Student Services Duty Managers at Exeter campuses and Security at Cornwall campuses.

Sexual Assault Support and Investigation Policy.

The University of Exeter is committed to ensuring that students who are pregnant or who have caring responsibility for very young children are not treated less favourably than other students as a result of their pregnancy and/or maternity.  This duty is compliant with the Equality Act 2010, under which pregnancy and maternity is treated as a protected characteristic.

In addition to legal compliance, the University recognises the need to provide support during pregnancy, and also maternity and paternity leave, as part of our commitment to equality and diversity, and to ensure students have the best chance of continuing their studies and realising their academic potential.

The University also recognises the need to provide similar advice and support to students who become parents through the process of adoption.  The policy is intended to apply equally to circumstances of adoption as for the birth of a child.

The University acknowledges that individual students  will have different needs and requirements, and it is not possible to provide detailed information to cover all circumstances and situations.  The Policy is intended to be used as a framework, offering general guidance to facilitate individualised planning around the specific needs of each student.  Where necessary and appropriate, the Policy will refer to other sources of information and advice.

Read the Student Pregnancy, Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Policy.

What is an ILP?

An Individual Learning Plan (ILP) is a document that informs Colleges within the University that a student has declared a disability and sets out the reasonable adjustments that need to be considered. For a student to have an ILP in place, the student will have a health issue or disability which fits the criteria to be classified as a disability under the Equality Act 2010. The legislation affects all HEIs in the UK and all are expected to provide reasonable adjustments in response to assessed needs.

Why do students have ILPs?

Reasonable adjustments are put in place in order to remove barriers that may prevent students from participating at University, and to minimise the impact that their health condition or disability may have on their ability to study.

How does a student get an ILP?

Students make contact with Wellbeing Services (AccessAbility/Mental Health Pathway) and following an in-depth assessment an ILP is set up. This requires the student to provide independent evidence of their health condition.

When are ILPs set up or updated?

ILPs can be set up or updated at any point throughout the academic year in agreement with the student and you will receive an automatic notification. 

Student responsibilities

It is your responsibility to contact Wellbeing Services (AccessAbility and Mental Health Pathway) if you have any queries about the details contained within your ILP, if you would like it reviewed or if your situation changes at any time.

Please contact your Student Services Team if you have any queries about the implementation of your reasonable adjustments.

Exam Provisions:

Please be aware that any previous exam adjustments that you may have had in place at school and/or college will not automatically be put in place at the University and adjustments will only be made following an appointment with Wellbeing.

It is your responsibility to contact Wellbeing if you need special requirements to be made or adjusted. If you leave it too late they may not be able to accommodate your needs in time for the examinations. Please see the following for more information on exam provisions and the relevant deadlines – Specific Provisions for Examinations

Further advice and information

Wellbeing (Mental Health Pathway): Web / 01392 72 4381
AccessAbility: Web / 0300 555 0444,
Student Services Team
Student Information Desk Online – FAQs