Dear Murray Edwards College, Cambridge,
This is a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
This request asks for information related to students ‘disregarding terms for the purpose of standing’, commonly known within the University of Cambridge as intermission, and functioning as a 'suspending studies' process seen in UK Higher Education Institutes. For the purposes of this request, I will refer to intermission or intermitting students; this should be taken to refer to ‘disregarding terms’ but not course withdrawal.
This request also asks for information related to students withdrawing from their course; this is noted explicitly.
This request also asks for information related to College-based Fitness to Study procedures. An example Fitness to Study policy document is accessible here, which may help you with this request, for Magdalene College: https://www.magd.cam.ac.uk/system/files/...
This should not be confused with the University of Cambridge’s Fitness To Study procedure, accessible here: https://www.studentcomplaints.admin.cam....
Reference to a Fitness to Study procedure throughout this request should be taken to mean a College-based process, such as the example above for Magdalene College, whereby a higher education institute or body reviews that a student is supported, in their best interests, in balance with the rights of other students and staff. Procedures and policy may not be explicitly named as a Fitness to Study procedure, so for the purposes of this request consider ‘Fitness to Study’ to refer to College policy or procedure that is intended to or manages to achieve a similar purpose.
For your College, please:
(1) Provide electronic copies, or accessible links to, any documents outlining Fitness to Study procedure, protocol or policy currently in effect. Please note the guidance above in selecting relevant material.
(2) Provide any documents, or accessible links to documents, with prior versions of a Fitness to Study procedure (as in request (1)) that were active in any of the academic years through from 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19 or 2019-20, with their year indicated. Do not include any documents that have no changes to the currently active policy, but do indicate if there was no policy in general for any of these years.
(3) Consider whether the Fitness to Study procedure contains stages or parts, as are indicated in the example given in this request. Please indicate the number of stages in the process, and suggest which parts of any policy or procedure documents these stages refer to, which may be obviously (sub)titled, as with the example given. For example, the example document supplied for Magdalene College indicates three stages, subtitled as sections 3, 4 and 5.
For each academic year through from 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20, could you please provide:
(4) The number of students referred to a College-based Fitness To Study procedure, (i) as a total number per year; (ii) broken down by whether the referred students are undergraduates or postgraduates, and (iii) broken down by whether the referred students are undergraduates or postgraduates then by year of study; for undergraduates interpret year of study as Tripos year rather than real (academic) years; for Postgraduates, as real (academic) years.
(5) The number of students suspended temporarily as an outcome of Fitness To Study procedures (ie. an outcome similar to intermission), if possible further broken down by whether the student was both given and invited to a hearing, or not.
(6) The number of students deprived of membership and excluded permanently as an outcome of Fitness To Study procedures (ie. similar to course withdrawal), if possible further broken down by whether the student was both given and invited to a hearing, or not.
(7) Any outcomes of Fitness to Study procedures, with frequency of outcome.
(8) The number of applications for a student to intermit, first broken down by applications for medical reasons vs. non-medical reasons, further broken down by undergraduate or postgraduates, and with undergraduates broken down by Tripos year.
(9) The number of applicants to extend intermission, broken down by applications for medical reasons vs. non-medical reasons, further broken down by undergraduate or postgraduates, with undergraduates broken down by Tripos year.
(10) The number of applications to resume studies after suspended membership (ie. an outcome similar to intermission) from a Fitness To Study procedure.
(11) The number of approved applications to resume studies after suspended membership from a Fitness To Study procedure (see (10) above).
Combining all of the academic years listed earlier (ie. 2015-16 through to 2019-20), please provide:
(12) The number of students intermitting for consecutive years (ie. extending intermission) throughout the time period, broken down by the total number of years disregarded with frequency.
For example, a response might be:
Two years - 3
Three years - 5
This would indicate three students had intermitted for two years consecutively, and five students had intermitted for three years consecutively.
(13) The number of students withdrawing from their course, broken down by undergraduates or postgraduates, and further broken down by reason for withdrawal.
(14) With regards to the Fitness to Study procedure for your College, indicate the number of times the process was started with referral to the separate stages examined in your response to (3). You may find that the procedure can begin at a later stage, or advance through stages at discretion (eg. due to the decision of a Senior Tutor, or College Master) rather than via a decision-making body or other measure included in the prior stage; treat this as the the process starting at the later stage.
For example, a response might be:
Stage 1: 3
Stage 2: 1
Stage 3: 0
This would indicate that 3 students began the process at Stage 1, whilst 1 student was escalated at discretion or started directly at Stage 2, and no students were started at Stage 3.
(15) With regards to all times the Fitness to Study procedure has been used over the five years listed, please provide (i) the amount of money the College has spent on any mental health or disability training for any staff members who have held roles in any decision-making position involved in adjudicating any Fitness to Study cases including groups such as Case Review Panels or similar, excluding the salaries of any College Nurses or College Counsellors and; (ii) the amount of money the College has spent to fund students going through Fitness to Study procedures in obtaining medical evidence for the process.
(16) How many students who have undergone Fitness to Study procedures (i) have a disability, and (ii) what are the frequency of different disabilities? Use any information the College holds in your response, or otherwise break down students by HESA definitions of disability to answer (ii). See here for HESA definitions: https://www.hesa.ac.uk/collection/studen...
Please provide an index of any supporting or related documents. Please provide your answer electronically (eg. by email).
If you are to invoke Section 43 to withhold information in relation to any of these questions please note you must provide details of the exact FOIA exemption, details of who would be prejudiced by this information, and a public interest test justifying a conclusion with arguments for and against the release of the information.
If you are to invoke Section 12 to withhold information in relation to any of these questions please provide details of how locating, retrieving and extracting this information would exceed the appropriate limit of £450 as set out in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004. Please also be aware of your duty under section 16 (1) of the Act to advise and assist me in narrowing my request to bring it within the appropriate limit.
Thank you very much for your assistance with this request. If you would like any clarification on the information I have asked for, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I look forward to receiving your response within the next 20 working days.
Dear Gabriel Kennedy
Thank you for your Freedom of Information request.
Please find the reply below.
RJ Hopwood MBA FCCA
Bursar and Fellow
Murray Edwards College
Cambridge, CB3 0DF
If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your
request and wish to make a complaint or request a review of this decision,
you should write to The Bursar, Murray Edwards College, Huntingdon Road,
Cambridge, CB3 0DF who will then assign an appropriate person to conduct
the internal review. If subsequently you are not content with the outcome
of your complaint, you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner
for a decision. Generally, the Information Commissioner cannot make a
decision unless you have exhausted the complaints procedure provided by
The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information
Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9
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