Statistics of number of parents / nominated persons contacted by university regarding student mental wellbeing.

Roedd y cais yn llwyddiannus.

Dear Merton College, Oxford,
Following a spate of sudden student deaths in 2018, an ‘opt-in scheme’ was pioneered by the University of Bristol as part of a set of measures aimed at preventing suicide. In 2019, a coroner wrote to the Department for Education and Minister for Suicide Prevention suggesting that these measures might be shared throughout the sector. I am now seeking to establish the extent to which ‘opt-in’ has been subsequently adopted and/or utilised.
The ‘opt-in’ or ‘consent at registration’ scheme implemented by Bristol University comprises an additional personal information sharing agreement that supplements when information might be shared. It gains consent at annual registration for the university to contact a ’safe and nominated’ parent, guardian or friend in situations that are not emergencies, but where staff have serious concerns that something bad might happen to an enrolled student, and/or where their health, wellbeing or welfare could be affected. Essentially it involves lowering the bar at which parents or nominated others could be contacted by a designated professional at the university, from ‘vital interests’ to ‘serious or significant concerns’. It could for example apply in cases of trauma or distress associated with suspension / expulsion / non-attendance / mental health issues etc.
To qualify as ‘opt-in’ a scheme must be optional and additional to the regular emergency contact protocol. The latter is compulsory and typically restricted to serious incidents and/or emergency situations, that may present an imminent threat to a student’s vital interests. Further particulars can be found at:
http://www.bristol.ac.uk/contacting-peop...
https://thetab.com/uk/2018/09/20/these-a...
https://thetab.com/uk/bristol/2019/10/31...
This important scheme has been implemented at a number of universities, and perhaps at your institution as well. If so, please provide me with the following information as absolute numbers and percentages.
For each academic period (2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21) and year-of-study (e.g. 1st year, 2nd year, 3rd year) sub-division:
• How many students opted-in at registration?
• How many students subsequently rescinded their consent?
• How many times was the opt-in consent used to contact somebody?
• How many times was use of the opt-in consent considered, but with you deliberately choosing not to contact a parent or nominated individual?

Yours faithfully,

Gillian Green

Merton College Freedom of Information, Merton College, Oxford

Dear Gillian Green,
 
Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000, received by Merton College on 17 March 2021.
 
Request
 
Your request was as follows:
 
This important scheme (the “opt-in” or “consent-at-registration” scheme
you describe) has been implemented at a number of universities, and
perhaps at your institution as well. If so, please provide me with the
following information as absolute numbers and percentages.
For each academic period (2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21) and year-of-study
(e.g. 1st year, 2nd year, 3rd year) sub-division:
•       How many students opted-in at registration?
•       How many students subsequently rescinded their consent?
•       How many times was the opt-in consent used to contact somebody?
•       How many times was use of the opt-in consent considered, but with
you deliberately choosing not to contact a parent or nominated individual?
Response
 
The College’s response is set out below.
 
The College takes seriously its welfare responsibilities towards all its
members: any personal problem, including any problem of an academic,
financial, emotional or medical nature, can be raised as a welfare
concern, and the College’s students are encouraged to discuss welfare
concerns with a member of the College Welfare Team, and to discuss
feelings of self-harm with their GPs as well as with members of the
College’s Welfare Team, so that the College can support them.
 
The College has not adopted the scheme you describe and thus does not hold
any information falling within the scope of the other requests you make:
 
•       How many students opted-in at registration?
        The College does not hold information falling within the scope of
this request.
•       How many students subsequently rescinded their consent?
The College does not hold information falling within the scope of this
request.
 
•       How many times was the opt-in consent used to contact somebody?
The College does not hold information falling within the scope of this
request.
 
•       How many times was use of the opt-in consent considered, but with
you deliberately choosing not to contact a parent or nominated
individual?    The College does not hold information falling within the
scope of this request.
 
Review
 
If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the
right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be
submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your
original request and should be addressed to: Professor Irene Tracey, The
Warden, Merton College, Merton Street, Oxford OX1 4JD.
 
If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information
Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9
5AF.
 
With all good wishes,
 
Yours sincerely,
 
John Eidinow
 
Fra’ John Eidinow
DEAN AND KEEPER OF THE STATUTES
 
Merton College
Oxford OX1 4JD
[1]www.merton.ox.ac.uk
 
College Lodge:+44(0)1865 276310
[2][Merton College request email]
 
 
Merton College (The Warden and Scholars of the House or College of
Scholars of Merton in the University of Oxford)
was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1264 and is registered as a Charity |
No. 1139022
 

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