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

Roedd y cais yn llwyddiannus.

Dear Trinity 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• How many students subsequently rescinded their consent?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

Dear Trinity College, Oxford,

I am writing to remind you of my FOI request which should have been answered by now. Could you please confirm that you received it?
I understand that times are difficult, so this is just a polite reminder.

Yours faithfully,

Gillian Green

Dear Trinity College, Oxford,
I appreciate times are difficult, but my request is so long overdue.
I really would be grateful if you would reply quickly.

Yours faithfully,

Gillian Green

Christopher Ferguson, Trinity College, Oxford

Dear Gillian,

Please accept my apologies for a very overdue reply to your request for information.

The system which you have described has not been implemented at Trinity College. We remain reliant on individual students granting their consent if we reach a point at which we believe it is in their interest for us to contact their parent or next of kin. I appreciate that this may sound unprofessional, but in fact this is a small institution (under 450 students) with a proactive Wellbeing department (two members of staff, plus a part-time counsellor), so engagement is regularly provided on an individual basis where required. This being said, we are considering implementing the opt-in system for 2021 admissions, which does seem to provide a sensible addition to our existing arrangements. Our specific responses to your questions are as follows (in capitals):

• How many students opted-in at registration? SYSTEM NOT IMPLEMENTED AND SO WE ARE UNABLE TO PROVIDE THIS DETAIL

• How many students subsequently rescinded their consent? AS ABOVE

• How many times was the opt-in consent used to contact somebody? AS ABOVE

• How many times was use of the opt-in consent considered, but with you deliberately choosing not to contact a parent or nominated individual? AS ABOVE

I appreciate your interest in this difficult issue. All of us working in the education sector are rightly very concerned about the risk to our students from self-harm and suicide - especially following all the challenges which young people have faced during the Covid pandemic.

With best wishes,

Chris Ferguson

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