Freedom of Information,
Queen Margaret University,
22 March 2021
Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002
REF: FOI 21-57
In response to your request for information received by the University on Wednesday 10 March 2021 at
13:00, please find the University’s response on the following pages.
Queen Margaret University FOI
Your right to seek a review of how your information request was managed
If you are not satisfied with the University’s response and/or our reasoning, you have the right to request a
review of our decision. The time lines in which this right is available are set out in section 20(5)(a) and (b)
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Fol owing 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:
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
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?
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
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:
1. How many students opted-in at registration?
2018/19 2019/20 2020/21
Did not indicate
The question was added to the annual matriculation process part way through the 2019/20 academic
year. There were instances where students had matriculated prior to being asked the question so no
data was collected. However, students were given the opportunity to opt-in or opt-out as part of a
separate task that could be completed at any time.
For 2020/21, the question was present in the annual matriculation process from the start of the
academic year and all matriculated students responded to the question. The opportunity to opt-in or opt-
out is still present as an additional task that students can use to change their status at any time.
Please note that the above figures exclude all overseas collaborative provision. The University does not
hold the information requested by year group and does not hold relative percentages (although this can
be worked out from the figures provided above). Notice is given that Section 17 of the Freedom of
Information (Scotland) Act 2002 applies.
2. How many students subsequently rescinded their consent?
The University does not hold the information you have asked for, and notice is given that Section 17 of
the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 applies. By way of explanation, the University records
its students’ current preference only, and is unable to report on historical changes.
3. How many times was the opt-in consent used to contact somebody?
4. How many times was use of the opt-in consent considered, but with you deliberately choosing
not to contact a parent or nominated individual?