Follow - up on Statistics of number of parents / nominated persons contacted by university regarding student mental wellbeing.

Gillian Green made this Freedom of Information request to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge

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Dear Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge,

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.

In reply to a previous FOI request you answered “yes” to the following question: “Do you have an opt-in scheme to gain consent at registration from new or returning students in the event of the University having serious concerns about that student’s health, physical or mental?” This is a follow-up request.

There is a lot of confusion in the sector, about what is meant by ‘opt-in’ and/or ‘gaining consent at registration’, and what does or does not qualify. 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...

Is your acknowledged scheme consistent with the above description? 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

CAIUS Senior Bursar, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge

Dear Ms Green

I write to acknowledge receipt of your Freedom of Information requested dated 20 March 2021. The answers to your questions are as follows:

How many students opted-in at registration? *Caius has yet to implement its opt out system*

How many students subsequently rescinded their consent? *No information available*

How many times was the opt-in consent used to contact somebody? *No such information recorded*

How many times was use of the opt-in consent considered, but with you deliberately choosing not to contact a parent or nominated individual? *No information recorded*

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 Senior Bursar, Gonville & Caius College, Trinity Street, Cambridge, CB2 1TA 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 College. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Gardiner

RG Gardiner MA FCA

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Dear CAIUS Senior Bursar,
I am slightly confused by your reply. Please confirm that the implementation of an opt-in scheme has been officially approved and the planned semester in which it is likely to become operational.
Yours sincerely,

Gillian Green

CAIUS Senior Bursar, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge

I apologise for the typographical error. For 'opt out' please read 'opt in'.

RG Gardiner MA FCA
Senior Bursar, Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge CB2 1TA, Tel: +44 (0)1223 332499
Personal assistant: Debbie Brown, [email address], Tel: +44 (0)1223 332455
www.cai.cam.ac.uk
@CaiusCollege
Registered charity number 1137536

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Dear CAIUS Senior Bursar,
Dear Robert
Many thanks for the rapid reply and corrected text, replacing "opt-out" with "opt-in". Please confirm that the implementation of an opt-in scheme has been officially approved, as previously indicated in response to my earlier FOI, and the planned semester in which it is likely to become operational. The latter will enable me to send a follow-up request for the numbers involved at the right point.

Yours sincerely,

Gillian Green