Policies and Strategies
Policies and Strategies
Anti-Bribery and Fraud Prevention Policy
(1.1) Durham University has a zero tolerance policy towards bribery and fraud; actual or attempted. The University is committed to encouraging prevention, detection, and swift response to any instances of corruption; this policy seeks to clarify the protocols currently in place to facilitate the achievement of these goals. The University expects that all its partners will display the same integrity in their dealings with the University.
(1.2) The purpose of this policy is to safeguard the University, its reputation and assets, and the assets of its members, supporters, partners and subsidiary companies, as far as is practicably possible. The University is a charity and much of its income is derived from benefactions, public funds and charitable sources. As such, the University has a legal duty to ensure that its resources and income are used solely for the purposes intended. The University must safeguard its operations and reputation, and the interests of its funders, donors, and members from the adverse consequences of fraudulent activities.
(1.3) All staff have a responsibility to report any suspicions of bribery or fraud. Ultimate responsibility for prevention, detection, and investigation lies with the Chief Operating Officer, who should, according to HEFCE’s Audit Code of Practice and in consultation with other senior managers, institute adequate systems of internal control, including clear objectives, segregation of duties, and proper authorisation procedures. It is the responsibility of internal auditors to assess the adequacy of these arrangements and, on a practical level, investigate, or supervise the investigation of allegations of bribery or fraud. For further and more detailed information on responsibilities, see 4.0.
(1.4) The University takes seriously any allegations of bribery or fraud, and will investigate all such concerns. Any staff member found to be committing bribery or fraud (attempted or actual) will be subject to disciplinary proceedings which may result in dismissal. The University will reserve the right to seek compensation for any losses via civil proceedings. The police will be involved in all cases where there is prima facie evidence of a crime, and, in all such cases, the University will elect to prosecute the offender(s). Any malpractice undertaken by a student will be addressed under the University’s Student Major Offence Procedures.
(1.5) A Loss Prevention Steering Group will be established by the University Executive Committee for the monitoring and implementation of this Policy. The Group will also consider the wider implications of loss (inclusive of fraud) within the University, and the management controls in place to mitigate the risks associated with loss.
(2.1) For the purpose of this policy, fraud is defined, in accordance with the Fraud Act 2006, as dishonest acts characterised by deliberate intent to a) gain an advantage, either for personal material (or other) gain, or for the benefit of another individual/group of individuals; and/or to b) cause financial loss to the University or one of its subsidiary companies. Intent is central to the University’s understanding of fraud; whether actual gain or loss has occurred is immaterial. It should be noted that fraud may be perpetrated by individuals internal or external to the University (for example, external fraud may occur via a breach of information security i.e. hacking). Fraud can be committed by making false representations, failing to disclose information, or by abuse of position.
(2.2) This policy deems the following examples as fraudulent acts: forgery, theft of cash or property, extortion, embezzlement, misappropriation, false representation, concealment of material facts, destruction of records, knowingly retaining a salary overpayment, excessive personal use of University resources, money laundering and collusion.
(2.3) Bribery is broadly defined in the Bribery Act 2010 as occurring when a person offers, gives or promises to give a "financial or other advantage" to another individual in exchange for "improperly" performing a "relevant function or activity". The offence of being bribed is defined as requesting, accepting or agreeing to accept such an advantage, in exchange for improperly performing such a function or activity. "Financial or other advantage" is not defined in the Act and can encompass items such as contracts, non-monetary gifts and offers of employment. A bribe, therefore, does not have to involve a monetary transaction and can take many forms. The "relevant function or activity" covers "any function of a public nature; any activity connected with a business, trade or profession; any activity performed in the course of a person's employment; or any activity performed by or on behalf of a body of persons whether corporate or unincorporated". This encompasses activities performed both inside and outside the UK. The conditions attached are that the person performing the function could be expected to be performing it in good faith or with impartiality, or that an element of trust attaches to that person's role.
(2.4) This policy is applicable to all staff and student members of the University, all members of Durham Student Organisations, and other volunteer/lay members. Any fraudulent activities identified in relation to other individuals working with, on behalf of, or for the University should be reported through the same process (see 4.0 below) as used for University members.
3.0 Expected Behaviours
(3.1) Vital to facilitating fraud prevention is the maintenance of a culture in which all University members are knowledgeable about and alert to potential instances of bribery or fraud, as well as the risks involved in activities where corrupt activities may occur. In addition to being perceptive to such activity, the University expects all staff and students to behave with integrity, and to lead by example, adhering to all expected standards, policies, and protocols.
(3.2) Transparency in our financial dealings is paramount, particularly because the University, as a charitable institution, needs to demonstrate clearly the use of funds.
(3.3) In order to make it easier to identify possible signs of fraud, the following list of behavioural indicators which should give rise to concern has been compiled. It is important to note that this list is by no means exhaustive, and that the indicators in themselves are not evidence of fraud or irregularity but of a problem which should be addressed. The indicators are:
- Frequently altered documents, (particularly financial documents);
- Incomplete or vague claim/expense forms;
- Erratic or inconsistent application of processes and procedures; particularly those relating to cash handling;
- Erratic, or noticeable changes in behaviour;
- Regular delays in the completion/submission of claims and financial reports;
- Staff seemingly living beyond their means;
- Staff seemingly under constant financial or other stress (possibly due to situational pressures);
- Reluctance to hand over work; particularly if the individual concerned is solely responsible for a risk area, including a reluctance to take annual leave to retain ownership of work;
- Avoidance of audits (internal or external);
- Refusal of promotion;
- Insistence on dealing with a particular individual;
- Management override of controls.
(4.1) If any member of the University becomes suspicious of another member of the University community (either staff, student, or volunteer/lay member), or an external partner, on account of their behaviour and participation in activities such as those highlighted in 3.4, these concerns should be reported in accordance with the University’s Financial Regulations (cf. Section 14.4 – Fraud and Corruption).
(4.2) Staff and students are actively encouraged to report suspicions of bribery or fraud relating to University business in accordance with the Financial Regulations. All staff and students should be reassured that they will be protected from any reprisals arising from reporting suspicions in good faith, as defined in the University’s Public Interest Disclosure Policy.
The Financial Regulations stipulate that:
- It is the duty of all members of staff, management, and Council to notify the Head of University Assurance immediately, whenever any matter arises which involves, or is thought to involve irregularity, including fraud, corruption, or any other impropriety.
- The Head of University Assurance shall immediately invoke the Fraud Response Plan which incorporates the following key elements:
- Hold a meeting of the Fraud Response Group (Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Director of Human Resources, Head of University Assurance, or, in case of absence, their designated deputy) within 72 hours of the original report to determine the initial response;
- Notification of the Vice-Chancellor and the Audit Committee (through its Secretary) of the suspected irregularity within five days of the original report;
- The Head of University Assurance shall inform the police at an early stage, following notification to the Vice-Chancellor, if a criminal offence is suspected of having been committed;
- Any significant cases of fraud or irregularity shall be reported to HEFCE by the Vice-Chancellor in accordance with their requirements as set out in the Audit Code of Practice;
- An investigating officer will be appointed by the Fraud Response Group. Any investigation will focus on: action to prevent further loss; recovery of assets; potential disciplinary action and/or criminal prosecution;
- The Investigating Officer shall prepare a report for the Fraud Response Group, presenting their findings and making recommendations for further action;
- The Head of University Assurance will inform Audit Committee of ongoing progress and the outcome of any investigations.
- If the suspected incident is thought to involve any member of the University Executive, the University Secretary, or the Head of University Assurance, the member of staff first aware of potential activities shall notify the Chair of the Audit Committee with their concerns regarding irregularities.
(4.3) For further, detailed information on responding to instances of bribery or fraud, please see the University’s Fraud Response Plan. The Fraud Response Plan contains information on the prevention of further losses, the establishment and securing of evidence, recovery of losses, and reporting to Council and HEFCE.
(5.1) In addition to responding to suspicions of bribery or fraud in an effective and timely fashion, staff and students should contribute to a work and study environment in which corruption is actively prevented.
(5.2) Fraud and bribery can be prevented through a number of simple means:
- Leading by Example: Senior management should ensure that they behave in a transparent manner, championing the University’s policies and procedures on fraud prevention;
- Understanding and Awareness of the University’s Policies: University members should familiarise themselves with the relevant policies and procedures, as listed below in 7.0;
- Use of Relevant Professional Channels: RelevantUniversity staff should engage with pertinent networks to facilitate prevention. For example, the North East Fraud Forum Ltd. meets to discuss cases of fraudulent activities in the region which may be relevant to the University;
- Audit Mechanisms: The University’s Assurance Service is able to undertake internal audits of activity to highlight any areas of vulnerability which are felt to expose the University to a variety of risks, including fraud and bribery. Units more vulnerable to risks associated with fraud or bribery should consider an internal audit to a) review control mechanisms and b) propose recommendations for enhancing these;
- Risk Management: Fraud risks will be managed, in accordance with the arrangements identified in the relevant risk registers, at both a University-wide, and local level in those areas most vulnerable to fraud and bribery risks. Monitoring of current controls by defined risk owners will mitigate the risk of attempted/successful fraud or bribery;
- Relevant Policies and Procedures: These should be regularly reviewed via internal management processes to ensure they remain robust, up-to-date, and fit-for-purpose. The University reserves the right to operate more than one policy at a time where appropriate; for example, in relation to fraud, the HR Disciplinary Regulations will be upheld in conjunction with the protocol defined within this policy;
- Use of References: These may safeguard against appointing unsuitable individuals to posts involving significant financial responsibilities;
- Cash handling Procedures: These should be clearly defined and communicated, supported by mechanisms to prevent one person from receiving, recording, and banking cash. In addition, a full audit trail of cash transactions should be maintained through the documenting of receipts. These procedures should also be applied to the use and handling of cheques;
- Physical Security: All cash and assets (including valuable data) should be kept and stored securely, with clear access rights defined and implemented;
- Budgetary Control: Budget holders should be alert to the risk of fraud or loss when monitoring actual income and expenditure against budget;
- Training: The University’s Training Team will offer basic web-based training for all staff to enhance understanding and awareness of fraud, bribery and associated risks. In addition, units deemed particularly “at risk” have specific training targeted at preventing loss (accidental or unintentional) in financial transactions. Training will be developed and delivered in proportion to the assessed risk.
6.0 Policy Reveiw
(6.1) This policy will be reviewed annually by the Loss Prevention Steering Group, to ensure that it remains suitably robust. The Group will review other associated documents, such as the Fraud Response Plan, to ensure they take into account up-to-date legislation and guidance, and incorporate lessons learnt from any fraud incidents.
 The Financial Regulations are subject to periodic review and amendment. It is recognised that this policy will be updated accordingly.
 The Fraud Response Plan will be implemented in all cases, save those of low-value theft (identified at the discretion of the University) which will be progressed through the appropriate channels without requiring a formal meeting of the Fraud Response Group.
Equality and Diversity Policy
The University recognises that equality of opportunity and valuing diversity are vital to its success. We believe that our purpose , aims and values, as set out in our University Strategy, will be best achieved if we recruit students and staff at all levels of responsibility from the national, regional and international communities that we serve and which influence our University.
We are fully committed to elimination of discrimination. Through promoting an environment in which individuals can utilise their skills and talents to the full without fear of prejudice and harassment we aim to make full use of the talents and resources of everyone within our University community.
This policy applies to all colleagues who work at the University on a paid or voluntary basis, all students, external examiners, consultants, all visitors or contractors who visit our premises.
It covers equality and diversity in relation to:
- Ethnicity (including race, colour and nationality)
- Gender (including gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and, marital status, pregnancy or maternity)
- Religion and/or belief
- Sexual orientation (including civil partnership status)
The University aims to demonstrate its commitment to equality and diversity and promote equality of opportunity for all by:
- Developing and publishing diversity objectives;
- Complying with legal obligations;
- Mainstreaming equality and diversity in to the University’s planning round for all departments and colleges.
- Promoting awareness and understanding of equality and diversity matters among staff and students;
- Involving staff and students in respect of changes which may affect their employment or study;
- Encouraging suppliers and partners to follow similar good practice.
- Promotion of equality and diversity through internal and external communications
- Ensuring that existing staff and students as well as applicants to work or study are treated fairly and judged solely on merit and by reference to their skills and abilities
- Ensuring the University estate is, as far as reasonably possible, accessible to all
- Providing training and briefings for staff at all levels
- Developing mechanisms for implementation, monitoring, evaluation and review of equality related policies
- Taking positive action to redress any gender, racial or other imbalance
- Ensuring staff and students are provided with appropriate mechanisms to discuss equality and diversity issues and raise any concerns
- Dealing with potential acts of discrimination appropriately under relevant University policy
- Consult with staff, students unions etc. through existing mechanisms on equality and diversity issues.
University Council through the Vice-Chancellor has ultimate responsibility for ensuring that University Equality and Diversity Policy is fully implemented. The Dean for Equality and Diversity is responsible to the UEC lead (currently PVC (Education)) for leading the implementation of the University’s strategy in relation to equality and diversity for both staff and students.
The Director of Human Resources, has a specific and delegated responsibility for the effective development and implementation of equal opportunities in employment. The Academic Registrar, has a specific and delegated responsibility for the effective development and implementation of equal opportunities for the student body. The Equality and Diversity Manager is responsible for the co-ordination of the Equality and Diversity work.
The Director of Human Resources has responsibility for the formulation of policies and procedures in relation to staff to support the University's overall strategy and for overseeing their implementation. The Academic Registrar has responsibility for the formulation of policies and procedures in relation to students to support the University's overall strategy and for overseeing their implementation. The University's Equality and Diversity Advisory Group is responsible for co-ordinating and reviewing the University's Equality and Diversity Policy in addition to promoting greater awareness of equal opportunities and diversity within the University in its broadest sense. Equality and Diversity.
Heads of Departments, Heads of Houses, other Heads of Sections and Chairs of Appointing Committees have a duty to ensure that the University's equal opportunities policies in respect of employment are implemented within their sphere of activities and responsibility, and to nominate a staff member to have local responsibility for co-ordinating Equality and Diversity work.
Education Committee has a duty to ensure that the University's equal opportunities policies in relation to student matters are implemented.
Recognised Trade Unions have a formal responsibility to actively promote diversity.
All members of staff have a responsibility to adhere to this policy at all times in the course of their day to day activities. Staff have a personal responsibility to attend designated training sessions to keep abreast of equality legislation. Behaviour or actions contrary to this policy will be considered serious disciplinary matters and may, in some cases, lead to dismissal.
All members of the University community, external examiners, consultants, contractors and visitors to our premises have a responsibility to adhere to this policy at all times in the course of their day to day activities.
Implementation of the Equality and Diversity Policy
We will ensure that all staff, students and as far as practicable, others associated with the University are informed of the policies and their responsibilities with respect to implementation. The means of doing so include:
Nomination of a person by each department/section/college who will be responsible for promotion of Equality and Diversity
The production and distribution of information to all members of the University to raise awareness of specific equality legislation issues
A designated website for Equality and Diversity
Equality and Diversity awareness training to all employees via a cascade of information within every department and section. The training programme to be monitored to evaluate its effectiveness
Appropriate training provided for those persons responsible for the implementation of the policy, including University Council members
Specific training provided for those responsible for recruitment, selection, promotion, probation, appraisal. A list of approved selection interviewers for staff and students developed.
All staff are required to attend equality and diversity training appropriate to their role. Information on training will be made available on the Equality and Diversity area of the website.Monitoring
We aim to assess the impact of our Equality and Diversity Policy by monitoring as follows:
The Human Resources Department will collect and analyse monitoring data on staff with regard to recruitment, training, promotion and re-grading, complaints etc. and report this information annually to the Equality and Diversity Advisory Group
The Academic Registry and Student Services will collect and analyse monitoring data with regard to recruitment and completion and report this information annually to the Equality and Diversity Advisory Group and Learning and Teaching Committee.
Complaints Procedures related to Equality and Equality and Diversity
All members of our University community who believe they have been discriminated against have the right to make a complaint. Normally the matter should first be raised informally in the first instance with their immediate supervisor, College Principal, Chair of Board of Studies or Head of Section using the following procedure, as appropriate:
- Respect at Work Policy
- Respect at Study Policy
- University Statutes (for academic staff)
- Grievance Procedures (for non-academic staff)
- Student Academic Appeals Procedure
- Student Complaints Procedure.
Any member of staff may seek assistance from their trade union or the Human Resources office and students may seek advice from Durham Students' Union.
If the complaint is not resolved individuals should make a formal complaint following the appropriate procedure.
Making a complaint does not prejudice an individual's right to make use of other procedures, including the Respect at work and study or Grievance procedures
We aim to protect anyone who makes a complaint, or who acts as a witness, under these procedures from victimisation.
Members of the public should address complaints to the University service in question in the first instance.
Consultation and Review
We will consult widely with the University's Equality and Diversity Advisory Group, Diversity Network, Trade Unions, Durham Students Union and other stakeholders on a regular basis.
The University's policy on Equality and Equality and Diversity, will be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that it continues to reflect good practice and current legislation.
Fraud Response Plan
(1) All actual or suspected incidents of fraud or irregularity should be reported without delay to the Head of University Assurance. The Head of University Assurance should, within 72 hours, hold a meeting of the following Fraud Response Group (FRG) to decide on the initial response:
- Chief Operating Officer (in the Chair)
- Chief Financial Officer
- Director of Human Resources
- Head of University Assurance
It is intended that this core group remains small to facilitate timely decisions and to ensure that confidentiality (and the reputation of the University) is maintained. Other co-opted members may be called upon at later stages in the investigative process to assist in specific cases where their expertise is required. It is expected that such individuals may come from Communications, Legal Support, Computing and Information Services and the University’s Security Office.
(2) The FRG will decide on the action to be taken. This will normally be an investigation, and FRG will appoint an Investigating Officer with clear terms of reference and guidance for the investigation. The investigation will consider: the nature and extent of any loss; action required to prevent further loss; recovery action; and the appropriateness of additional sanctions (including disciplinary action or criminal prosecution). The investigation will take place without regard to position, length of service, or relationships.
(3) All special investigations involving senior colleagues, potentially requiring a report to HEFCE or likely to attract significant public interest, shall normally be led by the Head of University Assurance. The members of the FRG will ensure that other staff co-operate with requests for assistance by the Investigating Officer and will approve the appointment of external specialists if required to assist with the investigation.
Prevention of Further Loss
(4) Where the initial investigation provides reasonable grounds for suspecting a member or members of the University of fraud, the FRG will decide how to prevent further loss. This may require suspension, with or without pay, of the suspect(s), in accordance with the Disciplinary Regulations. It may be necessary to plan the timing of suspension to prevent the suspect from destroying or removing evidence that may be needed to support disciplinary or criminal action.
(5) In these circumstances the suspect should be approached unannounced. They should be supervised at all times before leaving the University's premises. They should be allowed to collect personal property under supervision, but should not be able to remove any property belonging to the University. Any security passes, keys to premises, offices and furniture should be returned.
(6) The Director of Estates and Buildings should advise on the best means of denying access to University premises while the suspect remains suspended. The CIO should be instructed to withdraw, without delay, access permissions to the University's IT facilities.
(7) The Head of University Assurance shall consider whether it is necessary to investigate systems other than that which has given rise to suspicion, through which the suspect may have had opportunities to misappropriate the University's assets.
Establishing and Securing Evidence
(8) The University will follow its own internal disciplinary procedures against any member of the University who has committed fraud. The University will normally pursue the prosecution of any such individual. Where the police are not notified of a suspected or actual fraud, the Audit Committee must be advised of the reason.
(9) The Fraud Response Group will:
- Maintain familiarity with the University's disciplinary procedures and regulations, to ensure that evidence requirements will be met during any fraud investigation;
- Ensure that Investigating Officers are familiar with and follow rules on the admissibility of documentary and other evidence in criminal proceedings (including the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (1984), the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000), the Human Rights Act (1998), and the Equality Act (2010);
The Head of University Assurance will establish and maintain contact with the police.
Recovery of Losses
(10) The FRG shall ensure that in all fraud investigations, the amount of any loss will be quantified. Repayment of losses should be sought in all cases.
(11) Where the loss is substantial, legal advice should be obtained without delay about the need to freeze the suspect's assets through the court, pending conclusion of the investigation. Legal advice should also be obtained about prospects for recovering losses through the civil court, where the perpetrator refuses repayment, and from existing pension funds. The University would normally expect to recover costs in addition to losses.
(12) Any request for a reference for a member of staff or a student who has been disciplined or prosecuted for fraud shall be referred to the Director of HR or the Academic Registrar, who shall approve any response to a request for reference.
Reporting to University Council
(13) The Vice-Chancellor shall report any incident of actual or suspected fraud to the Chair of Council and the Chair of the Audit Committee if any of the following circumstances apply:
- The sum of money involved is, or potentially could be, in excess of £25,000;
- The particulars of the fraud are novel, unusual or complex;
- There is likely to be public interest because of the nature of fraud or the individuals involved.
(14) The Vice-Chancellor shall ensure that any departure from the approved Fraud Response Plan shall be reported and explained promptly to the Chair of Council and the Chair of the Audit Committee.
Notifying the HEFCE
(15) The circumstances in which the University must inform the HEFCE about actual or suspected frauds are detailed in the HEFCE Audit Code of Practice. This stipulates that any loss, theft, or fraud of charity assets or other irregularity where money involved is, or is potentially in excess of £25k; or where a case reveals systemic weaknesses of concern beyond the institution; or, are novel, complex, or of public interest, must be reported to the Chair of the University’s Audit Committee, the Head of University Assurance, the Chair of Council, an external auditor, and HEFCE’s CEO. The Vice-Chancellor is responsible for informing the HEFCE of any such incidents.
(16) The Investigating Officer shall provide the FRG with reports on the progress of ongoing special investigations no less frequently than monthly. The FRG, in turn, will provide updates to the Vice-Chancellor. Reports should include quantification of losses; progress with recovery action; progress with disciplinary action; progress with criminal action; estimate of resources required and timescales to conclude the investigation; actions taken to prevent and detect similar incidents. On completion of a special investigation, a written report shall be submitted to the Vice-Chancellor and the Audit Committee by the Head of University Assurance containing:
- A description of the incident, including the value of any loss, the people involved and the means of perpetrating the fraud;
- The measures taken to prevent a recurrence;
- Any actions needed to strengthen future responses to fraud, with a follow-up report on whether the actions have been taken.
Public Interest Disclosure Policy 'Whistle Blowing'
(1) The University is committed to the highest standards of integrity, probity and accountability. It seeks to conduct its affairs in a responsible manner taking into account the proper use of public funds, the requirements of its funding bodies and
the standards required in public life.
(2) The aim of this policy is to enable and encourage individuals to raise matters of concern (referred to in this Policy as “disclosures”) that are in the public interest (often referred to as “whistleblowing”) at a high level within the University, so that
they may be investigated and, where appropriate, acted upon. All concerns raised by an individual will be treated fairly and properly and no individual will suffer any detriment for raising concerns under this Policy in good faith.
(3) It is a reasonable expectation of the University that any disclosures will be raised internally and this Policy exhausted in the first instance.1
(4) When this Policy Applies
(4.1) Disclosures under this Policy may be an honest belief of alleged wrongful conduct of the University, or about the conduct of a fellow employee, service user, or any third party. The individual making a disclosure is often not directly, personally, affected by the concern which they raise, although they
(4.2) This Policy applies to all employees and those who are engaged to work in the University and includes apprentices, interns, atypical workers and those with honorary contracts. The Policy also applies to any students undertaking work in the University [and extends to students, and members of University bodies such as members of Council and committees].
(4.3) This Policy cannot be used by individuals to challenge financial and business decisions properly taken by the University or seek reconsideration of any matter already addressed under other internal procedures, for example disciplinary and grievance procedures. Furthermore, any disclosure under this Policy should be raised in the ‘public interest’ rather than matters relating to an individual’s situation, for example a complainant about an individual’s contract of employment. Any disclosure made under this Policy must be made in good faith and should not be made for personal gain.
(4.4) The University also has in place a set of Financial Regulations covering a wide range of areas including the delegation of financial authorities, purchasing, and general systems of audit and internal financial control. In the case of concerns regarding financial irregularities/concerns, these may be addressed under the University’s Fraud Procedure or other relevant Finance processes.
(5) Qualifying Disclosures
(5.1) Disclosures which qualify to be considered under this Policy are those where the individual making the disclosure reasonably believes that one of the following issues is happening in the University, took place in the recent past or is likely to happen in the future:
(5.1.1) criminal activity;
(5.1.2) a failure to comply with any legal obligation;
(5.1.3) a miscarriage of justice;
(5.1.4) endangering the health or safety of any individual (including risk to colleagues, students or any third party or member of the public engaging with the University or using University premises);
(5.1.5) financial or non-financial maladministration, malpractice or fraud where issues are not adequately addressed by measures listed at 4.4;
(5.1.6) damage to the environment; or
(5.1.7) deliberately concealing information demonstrating that one or more of the above taking place.
(5.2) Should the University consider that issue raised could be more appropriately considered under an alternative University policy or informally within a department/faculty/school, the University may, at its discretion, consider the issue under that alternative process.
All disclosures under this Policy will be treated in a sensitive and, where possible, confidential manner. If required, the identity of the individual making the disclosure will be kept confidential for as long as possible, provided that this is compatible with an effective investigation. The investigation process may have to reveal identity of the individual making the disclosure and that individual may be asked to make a statement or attend an investigatory meeting as part of the process.
(7) Anonymous Disclosures
(7.1) Individuals making a disclosure are expected to identify themselves; as disclosures raised anonymously can be significantly more difficult to address effectively. The University will not normally consider anonymous disclosures. The University may investigate anonymous disclosures taking into account the seriousness of the issue, the credibility of the concern, any prejudice to those named in an anonymous disclosure and the likelihood of being able to investigate the matter and confirm the allegation from alternative sources.
(7.2) It should be noted that that the ability to provide relevant feedback and protect against detriment will depend on the University knowing the identity of the individual making a disclosure.
Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblowing) Procedure
(8) Raising a Concern
(8.1) It is expected that the majority of concerns will be raised openly with linemanagers or another senior colleague (or for students their academic or (College tutor) as part of the day-to-day good practice of the University. Any concerns should be raised promptly so that they can be considered in a timely manner.
(8.2) It is only when an individual considers that their concerns (which meet the criteria in 5.1 above) have not been appropriately dealt with as part of day-today management or the concern is about their line manager or department or the concern is so serious that it should be considered at a more senior level in the University, that a concern may be raised under this Policy.
(8.3) Where an individual considers that it may be necessary to make a disclosure under this Policy, and that disclosure fulfils the criteria at 5.1 above, disclosure should be made in writing to the University’s Secretary or, should the role of University Secretary be vacant, disclosures should be made to the Head of University Assurance Service. The University Secretary may designate an alternative senior officer in the University to deal with any disclosures made under this Policy. The University Secretary or senior officer
considering a disclosure is referred to as the “Designated Person”. If a disclosure involves or implicates the Designated Person, the disclosure should be made to the Chief Operating Officer.
(8.4) An individual raising a concern raised under this Policy should make it clear that they are raising their concern under this Policy and they should provide sufficient information and detail to allow the concern to be meaningfully considered by the Designated Person.
(9) The University’s Response to a Disclosure
(9.1) The Designated Person will acknowledge receipt of the disclosure and will consider whether the matters disclosed provide sufficient grounds for proceeding further. The Designated Person may bring the disclosure to the attention of the Vice-Chancellor, Chair of Council, Director of HR and, in cases with a financial aspect, the Chair of Audit Committee.
(9.2) If the Designated Person does not have sufficient information to determine whether or how the matter should proceed, they may appoint an investigating manager to undertake a brief preliminary investigation to ascertain whether there is a prima facie case to be considered further under this Policy. The outcome of the brief investigation will be reported to the Designated Person (normally within 21 days) who will then decide on appropriate next steps.
(9.3) Following consideration of the disclosure (and any preliminary investigation which may have been conducted), the Designated Person may:
(9.3.1) Determine that a substantive investigation should be conducted in accordance with the process outlined below.
(9.3.2) Decide that the matter should be considered under a different University policy. The individual will be advised of this decision and the disclosure will be referred to an appropriate manager to take any relevant further action.
(9.3.3) Refer the matter to an appropriate body external to the University, for example the police.
(9.3.4) Determine that no further action should be taken and the Designated Person will inform the individual of this decision.
(10.1) Should the Designated Person consider that the disclosure should be investigated (excluding any preliminary investigation), the Designated Person will appoint a manager to conduct an investigation (the “Investigating Manager”).
(10.2) The Investigating Manager will be chosen based on the nature of the disclosure. The Investigating Manager must not be a person who would make decisions based on the outcomes of the investigation or who may be involved in other processes which may be invoked as an outcome of any investigation under this Policy.
(10.3) The scope of the investigation will be determined by the Investigating Manager.
(10.4) Investigations will be conducted as quickly as possible, whilst having regard to the nature and complexity of the disclosure.
(10.5) When an allegation is made against a "named individual", the named individual will normally be informed of the allegation and any supporting evidence and they may be given a right to respond to any allegations. The point at which this may occur will depend on the specific nature of the case.
(10.6) The Investigating Manager may interview and/or seek a written statement from the individual who made the disclosure and any other individuals who they consider to be relevant to the investigation including anyone named in the disclosure. Any individual being interviewed under this Policy may be accompanied to an investigatory meeting by a colleague or trade union representative. A refusal to participate in an investigatory meeting may lead to disciplinary action.
(10.7) When the Investigating Manager has concluded the investigation they will provide a report with their findings to the Designated Person. Thereafter the Designated Person will determine what action, if any, should be taken in the circumstances. This may include the initiation of alternative University procedures, reference to an external third party or no further action.
(10.8) The outcome of any investigation may be reported, as appropriate, to the Vice-Chancellor, the Chair of Council, the Director of Human Resources and (in cases with a financial aspect) the Chair of Audit Committee. The individual who made the disclosure may be told the outcome of an investigation but the investigation report may not be shared with them.
An individual making a disclosure or an individual named in a disclosure has no right of appeal under this Policy about the outcome of any investigation undertaken or any decisions of the Designated Person.
(12) Protection Against Detriment
An individual will not be subjected to a detriment because they have made a disclosure in good faith and based on an honest belief under this Policy. Anyone causing an individual a detriment because of any disclosure which they have made under this Policy could be subject to potential disciplinary action.
(13) False Allegations
A disclosure that is not pursued further or confirmed by an investigation, will not lead to any action, penalty or detriment against the individual making the disclosure. However, individuals who, on the balance of probability, knowingly making false allegations/misusing this Policy may be subject to disciplinary or other appropriate action, notably if the individual persists in raising the allegations after the Designated person has taken action.
All concerns raised and action taken in response to any disclosures under this Policy, including a copy of any investigation reports, will be retained by the Designated
Person for 5 years. An annual report of disclosures which have been made under this Policy will be compiled by the Designated Person and submitted to Council and the Director of Human Resources.
1 For example a disclosure may be raised in good faith with HEFCE, albeit it is HEFCE’s practice to refer a disclosure back to the institution to ensure that
internal policies have been exhausted in the first instance
Recording of Lectures and Teaching Sessions Policy
(1) There is an expectation that lectures and teaching sessions may be audio recorded by students and/or staff in line with policy guidance. This does not include seminars or tutorials.
(2) The audio recording of group-based teaching and learning activities (e.g., lectures) can provide a useful resource for students and can be used to, amongst other things:
- provide a study aid for review and revision;
- help accommodate different learning styles;
- assist students who do not have English as their first language;
- assist students who have particular educational needs.
(3) The audio recording of lectures and teaching sessions is particularly important in the context of our commitment to equality and diversity and should be considered a reasonable adjustment from which all our students will benefit. The audio recording of lectures and teaching sessions is supported to supplement the student experience, and will not replace student contact hours.
(4) Audio recording devices must be kept with the student at all times and may not be placed on the lectern/lab table unless required for any disability related reasons.
(5) The University regards staff recording their own lectures and teaching sessions to make available online as good practice, noting that due process must be followed where recordings would include the intellectual property of others.
(6) Subject to the right to opt out of recording of parts or all of a teaching session (see 7 and 8 below), staff and students are deemed to consent to the audio recording of lectures and teaching sessions in accordance with University policy.
(7) Audio recordings of ‘sensitive personal data’ require the express consent of the staff or students being recorded. Sensitive personal data means data that is identifiable and contains any of the following information: racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or other similar beliefs, trade union membership, physical or mental health, sexual life or the alleged commission of a criminal offence. In instances where personal or confidential matters are being discussed the teacher responsible for the session should make it clear that some or part of the session should not be recorded.
(8) If a teacher feels his/her entire module may not be suitable for recording he/she is encouraged to engage in discussion with the Head of School/Department to establish whether any of the opt out reasons as set out below pertain. If the University has an overriding legal obligation to provide a recording (e.g. a student with a disability needs to make a recording as part of the ‘reasonable adjustment’ process), opt out will not be permitted. Opt out will be appropriate if a lecture contains confidential or personal information, is commercially or politically sensitive, includes such a degree of interaction with students that recording is not viable or the mode of delivery makes recording unsuitable. There may be other valid reasons why opt out may be appropriate. These should be discussed with the Head of School.
(9) Permission to record other teaching activities (i.e. seminars and tutorials) is at the discretion of the teaching staff with any recordings made subject to the same restrictions as lectures. The University encourages consultation with the student regarding consideration of alternative methods of providing support when recording is deemed to be inappropriate.
(10) Covert recording of teaching activities, where permission has been withheld, is not permitted and will be treated as a major disciplinary offence.
(11) Except where authorised by the University, recordings of University lectures and teaching sessions are not for public consumption by any means, including by virtue of external publication, whether on the web or otherwise. Such recordings must not be copied or passed on to anyone else, other than for transcription purposes. Once a personal copy of a recording has served its purpose, it should be permanently erased. Infringement of this principle will be treated as a major disciplinary offence.
(12) All breaches of the policy will be dealt with in accordance with the University’s General Regulation IV: Discipline.
(13) The University recognises that copyright in the lectures and other teaching sessions reside with the teacher responsible for the teaching session, and that privacy matters of the teacher and students may be affected by recording teaching sessions. For this reason the University seeks to protect the intellectual rights and privacy, and objections of staff and students against recordings of themselves must be respected.
(14) Recordings will not be used for staff performance management purposes.
(15) Staff must comply at all times with copyright legislation relating to their lectures and educational activities.
(16) The University recognises and acknowledges that:
- not all teaching styles are suitable for capture, e.g., where there is use of whiteboards, chalk boards, etc. or if a high degree of audience interactivity is used;
- a requirement for staff to change their preferred teaching style for the purpose of recording may be detrimental to the student experience, and is not encouraged;
- ethical issues, or the use of sensitive material may render the recording of some teaching and learning activities as being inappropriate.
Student Alcohol Awareness and Use Policy
The purpose of this policy is to outline the University’s position on alcohol consumption and related issues amongst the student body.
(2) Policy Statement
The University recognises that moderate consumption of alcohol can be an enjoyable part of socialising and has no wish to discourage sensible and responsible drinking. However, the University is concerned to make all students aware of the harmful effects of alcohol, particularly as they relate to health, behaviour, safety, and academic performance, and to establish guidelines for its proper use. The University also considers it important to encourage a social life that respects those who choose not to drink alcohol. Overall the University aims to provide a supportive environment which encourages a culture of self-regulation and a respect and care for others.
The University is committed to achieving the following objectives:
(3.1) to promote a clear and consistent message which advocates responsible alcohol use at Durham University sanctioned events and activities, and more generally;
(3.2) to improve awareness of the impact of alcohol and the health risks associated with consumption;
(3.3) to promote personal responsibility for alcohol consumption and care and support in relation to that of others;
(3.4) to provide a safe environment for all Durham University sanctioned events and activities that mitigates the risks and reduces the vulnerabilities related to the consumption of alcohol;
(3.5) to provide an atmosphere free from pressure to drink for those who choose not to drink alcohol;
(3.6) to offer a balanced social programme with choice and alternatives to drinking alcohol;
(3.7) to offer appropriate help and support to those who experience problems related to their consumption of alcohol;
(3.8) to provide appropriate support for those affected by the alcohol-related behaviour and problems of others;
(3.9) to ensure that University strategies and procedures in this area are consistent with those of appropriate external agencies such as the Government, Students’ Union, external support agencies and community stakeholders;
(3.10) to have clear, appropriate and integrated procedures to deal with problems arising from alcohol use which are both supportive and disciplinary as appropriate;
(3.11) to challenge behaviours in relation to alcohol consumption where these are identified as posing a risk, for example pre-loading;
(3.12) to identify, monitor and reduce alcohol-related incidents in so far as they affect our student body.
The implementation of this policy, through a supporting annual action plan, is overseen by the University Executive Committee Lead on Alcohol, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience). The objectives (above) will be implemented through:
(4.1) the dissemination of the Policy on Student Alcohol Use and Awareness to all members of the University community;
(4.2) clear statements on alcohol which can be used in all University publications, including materials for recruitment, induction and progressing students;
(4.3) the organisation of educational information, campaigns and events to raise awareness of alcohol together with the behavioural and health risks associated with excessive consumption, and to promote individual and collective responsibility for alcohol consumption; these should be delivered throughout the year and directed at all students through integrated delivery from appropriate sections of the University together with the Students’ Union;
(4.4) the promotion of Durham University sanctioned events which are inclusive; all events will provide cheaply priced or free non-alcoholic refreshments, or will not involve any alcohol;
(4.5) University policy not to sanction any events or activities which encourage inappropriate and excessive consumption of alcohol such as drinking games, and a zero tolerance approach towards initiation ceremonies;
(4.6) the consideration of the appropriateness and inclusiveness of sponsorship from outlets that retail alcohol;
(4.7) the provision of appropriate and accessible advice and signposting for all students who experience problems related to their own alcohol consumption or that of others; through the College Student Support Offices, the Counselling Service, or the Students’ Union Advice and Help Service, and to appropriate specialist external agencies, for example;
(4.8) the provision of regular training for staff and students to improve awareness and develop skills to address alcohol-related problems;
(4.9) regular liaison and meetings with appropriate external agencies and community stakeholders (e.g. Health Services, Local Authority, Police, specialist agencies, Residents’ Associations);
(4.10) where appropriate, the effective use of the disciplinary procedures in response to allegations of alcohol-related misconduct;
(4.11) the assessment of risks associated with alcohol consumption at all Durham University sanctioned events and activities for students, and the implementation of appropriate mitigation to address the vulnerabilities created by drinking alcohol;
(4.12) the consumption of alcohol during normal working hours only occurring on special occasions, such as presentations, or seasonal gatherings, and with the prior permission of the appropriate Head of College, Department or Section; on such occasions the provision of alcohol should be moderate and suitable non-alcoholic alternatives made available;
(4.13) the monitoring of alcohol-related incidents at all Durham University sanctioned events;
(4.14) the regular review of the policy, associated procedures and annual action plan, including input from student representatives.
The University Executive Committee Lead on Alcohol, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience), has oversight of and responsibility for the Policy on Alcohol Awareness and Use and associated annual action plan.
The University is a caring community committed to promoting the wellbeing of its members and supporting those who wish to address problems.
We provide appropriate help and advice for students who wish to address issues arising from their own alcohol use, and also provide appropriate help and advice for those adversely affected by the alcohol-related behaviour and problems of others.
Excessive drinking can be the first outward sign that an individual needs help. Students can seek advice from their College Student Support Office, from the Counselling Service or from the Students’ Union Advice and Help Service, and will be signposted and assisted to access appropriate external specialist agencies.
As well as offering appointments, the Counselling Service also provides electronic sources of support available through the service website: www.durham.ac.uk/counselling.service/.
The University, through all appropriate sections and together with the Students’ Union, provides regular education and publicity to raise awareness of the health and other risks associated with the misuse of alcohol and to promote responsible alcohol consumption to all members.
(8) Ticketed Events and Activities
Tickets sold for all Durham University sanctioned student events and activities, whether taking place within or outside the University, will always provide a ticket option which does not include any alcohol at all, and if alcohol is included in a ticket price then the amount shall not exceed three units.
(9) College Bars
College bars are not merely outlets for alcohol. They provide inclusive social space for college communities and are the focus of a wide range of events and activities that may or may not include alcohol. College bars are safe and supportive environments.
All college bars conform to standard operating procedures.
Colleges have Designated Premises Supervisors and permanent managers are responsible for the operation of the bars. Permanent managers and key student members complete the BIIAB Level 2 Award for Personal Licence Holders along with other relevant training.
A minimum pricing policy is in operation and is reviewed annually. No promotions which encourage the purchase of alcohol through giveaways or reduced prices are permitted.
All college bars are accredited by the Best Bar None Scheme which includes annual inspections. The bars of Durham City colleges are also members of the Durham City Pub watch.
(10) Community Liaison
The University is committed to working in partnership with community stakeholders (Emergency Services, Local Authority, Residents’ Associations etc.) and regularly liaises to share views on best practice regarding the problems associated with alcohol consumption and to take action where this is identified as being necessary.
(11) University Regulations
The University recognises that, regrettably, excessive consumption of alcohol is a common factor when dealing with student misconduct. Consequently the University regulations.
apply in respect of any alleged misconduct, including misconduct which is a consequence of alcohol use. Being under the influence of alcohol is not an excuse for misconduct, offensive, abusive or illegal behaviour, and may be regarded as an aggravating feature. The application of disciplinary procedures always includes the provision of appropriate support.
(12) University Staff
It is the responsibility of all University staff to promote safe, sensible and responsible alcohol use and to signpost and assist those students who wish to access support for problems arising from alcohol use. The University will provide appropriate training and sources of advice.
(13) Monitoring and Review
This policy and the achievement of its objectives through the annual action plan will be reviewed annually by the University Executive Committee Lead on Alcohol, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience). This review will include receipt of data collected to monitor incidents related to the consumption of alcohol and the use of support services provided to address alcohol-related issues.
Student Mental Health Policy
(1.1) The purpose of the Student Mental Health Policy is to help ensure that the University provides a coherent institutional approach when responding to students with mental health problems. It has two specific aims:
(i) To set out the framework in which the University supports students with mental health difficulties and;
(ii) To provide practical advice and guidance to those staff responding to students with mental health difficulties.
(1.2) As a collegiate institution, the University aims to provide a supportive environment in which all students, including those with mental health difficulties, have the opportunity to realise their full academic potential and meet the academic requirements of their programmes of study. By providing the opportunity to pursue social, cultural, sporting and spiritual activities alongside academic activities, the University also aims to facilitate and promote positive mental health and well-being amongst its students.
(1.3) The University seeks to implement these aims by:
- Providing a range of support services within the college environment including the Senior Tutor and other Student Support officers as well as specialised student support in the form of a Counselling Service and a Disability Service in addition to support services provided through Durham Students' Union;
- Encouraging students with mental health difficulties to make these known to the University and to seek support both pre-arrival and after they have commenced their studies;
- Actively addressing any stigma associated with mental health by ensuring that students are not discriminated against, academically or otherwise, because of their difficulties and treating them in accordance with the University's equal opportunities policy statement;
- Referring students with serious mental health concerns, to the Counselling Service and appropriate mental health services;
- Ensuring that consistent procedures are adopted across the University to support students with mental health problems;
- Engendering a culture in which mental health difficulties are recognised and supported;
- Ensuring that consistent procedures are adopted across the University and its constituent Colleges to support students with mental health problems;
- Providing advice, guidance and support to staff involved in the support and care of students;
- Providing clear guidance on the confidentiality of personal information provided by students.
(1.4) Whilst the University is committed to providing a supportive environment, it is important to recognise that it is not a mental health facility nor is it a therapeutic community. There are, of necessity, limits to the extent of the support that can be provided and it is not the responsibility of the University to replicate services that already exist within the wider community and within the NHS.
(2) Meeting Commitments to Students with Disabilities
(2.1) The University has specific responsibilities towards those students whose mental health concerns are defined as a disability under the law. This requires the University to ensure that such students are not discriminated against and that reasonable adjustments are put in place to support their learning. To enable the University to meet its legal obligations and to provide access to necessary support services, all students are encouraged to disclose any disability they have prior to and after entry to the University.
(2.2) The University has admissions procedures in place for students with additional support needs. These can be found at:
• www.durham.ac.uk/learningandteaching.handbook/1/2/3/ (undergraduates)
• www.durham.ac.uk/learningandteaching.handbook/1/2/4/ (postgraduates)
(2.3) The Equality Act 2010 defines a disabled person as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Thus, it is likely to include students with a long-term mental illness. Responsibility for providing support rests with the student's College and Department in partnership with Disability Support. Disability Support, in consultation with the academic department concerned, undertake an assessment of the academic support needs and produce a Recommended Reasonable Adjustments Report (RAR) outlining the reasonable adjustments that are required to mitigate the effects of the student’s disability. Disability Support are also able to provide advice and guidance concerning students who need to be re-admitted to the University following a period of withdrawal or suspension from the University on the grounds of mental health (see section 7 below). Further details on the services provided can be found on the intranet through the following link: www.durham.ac.uk/disability.support/
(3) Support Services for Students
(3.1) The University has a well established tradition of providing extensive student support which includes the College network of pastoral care, access to medical care, the Counselling Service, Disability Support and the support services offered by the Students' Union. Responsibility for helping students with difficulties rests, in the first instance, with the Colleges and, in particular, those with responsibility for pastoral care. Staff in Departments and Faculties also have an interest and should liaise with the relevant Senior Tutor or support service if they have concerns about a student, subject to the requirements of confidentiality (see section 5 below).
(3.2) The College based system of pastoral support enables many of the minor problems experienced by students to be addressed and is appropriate for resolving practical or academic problems which give rise to anxiety or stress. However, it is not equipped to deal with more serious emotional and psychological problems which require professional intervention. For these problems the College pastoral support system acts as an early warning system that identifies students in need of professional help, whether that help is provided by a medical professional or the Counselling Service. Advice and guidance for members of University staff dealing with a student presenting with mental health difficulties is given below.
(4) Guidance for College and Departmental Staff Dealing with a Student Presenting with Mental Health Difficulties
(4.1) The majority of students with mental health difficulties are very unlikely to cause disruption or risk to themselves or others. However, experience at the University and in other higher education institutions, has shown there may be occasions when mental health difficulties or psychological or emotional disorders have a profound impact on the functioning of individual students and on the well-being of others around them.
(4.2) This guidance is intended to support staff responding to students with mental health difficulties;
- in emergency situations;
- in situations that are not an emergency but where they have concerns about a student's behaviour.
(4.3) When dealing with students presenting with mental health difficulties it is vital that staff understand that they are not expected to replace the professional care and support that are the responsibility of the NHS. Staff should always seek further professional advice/assistance when dealing with student mental health issues either by referring the student to a specialist service or by calling a case conference (see paragraph 7.4 below). They should never allow a situation to develop where an individual case places personal demands upon them or compromises their privacy, safety or impartiality. In all cases, personal safety overrides confidentiality. Staff who are personally affected by the supporting of a student, can receive advice and guidance from the University’s Occupational Health Service and can be directed to independent sources of support by the Student Counselling Service.
(5.1) All staff within the University have a legal obligation under the Data Protection Act 1998 to treat a student's physical or mental health as sensitive personal data (for further information see: www.durham.ac.uk/data.protection/dp_principles/principle1/) . It is important therefore that all staff recognise that they have a duty to maintain strict confidentiality within the University in respect of students and must not disclose information unless it is necessary to do so. Staff at the University who are involved in supporting students with mental health difficulties, should only pass on personal information about individual students when they judge it is in the vital interests of the student and/or the members of the university community.
(5.2) Where consent is not given by the student to disclose information this should be respected and information should not be disclosed. However there are rare exceptions to this rule which should be considered when dealing with students who are experiencing mental health difficulties:
- where the member of staff would be liable to civil or criminal proceedings if the information was not disclosed (for example if a crime had been committed);
- where it is believed the student's mental health has deteriorated to such an extent that they have become a danger either to themselves or to others;
- where a student is so ill that he/she lacks insight into their condition and lacks the mental capacity to give informed consent.
In these instances it is not necessary to ensure the consent of the student before disclosing information about them but it is still good practice to seek it and to inform the student that such a disclosure is going to be made to a mental health professional or similar.
(5.3) Staff may find that, when dealing with students experiencing mental health difficulties, they are contacted by concerned parents or other relatives requesting information. Staff can offer a sympathetic ear but in most circumstances personal information about a student must not be disclosed to anyone outside the University, including parents, without the student's permission1. Staff can offer to talk to the student and encourage them to get in touch with their relatives or offer to forward a letter to the student concerned and although some relatives are unlikely to be happy with this response, it is important to remember that students have the right to privacy.
(6) Dealing with Emergency and Serious Situations
(6.1) Very occasionally a student will exhibit behaviour that causes considerable and immediate concern.
An emergency situation may include a student demonstrating the following:
- suicidal tendencies/thoughts;
- serious mental health concerns that leaves the student with no capacity to make an informed decision about their wellbeing;
- risk of serious harm to self or others;
- serious physical illness.
A serious situation may include a student demonstrating the following:
- alcohol or substance abuse;
- irrational behaviour;
- chronic social withdrawal;
- a complete lack of functioning academically or in other areas of life.
(6.2) In emergency cases the need for intervention on behalf of the student will be urgent. If this happens during office hours and the student will accept help then they should be referred to their GP if medical intervention is required. . If medical intervention is not required and the student is a known client of the Counselling Service, it may be appropriate to refer the student there. The Counselling Service’s Duty Senior Counsellor would advise the department how best to meet the students’ urgent needs. The duty senior counsellor is available weekdays from 9am to 5pm on 0191 334 2200.
The Counselling Service can also refer students to specialist mental health support services in most cases the student would need to attend the Counselling Service to facilitate an assessment of their immediate needs.
If the crisis happens outside of normal office hours then the student will need to be directed to
- their GP and the 'out of hours' number
- NHS 111 You can call 111 when medical help is needed fast but it’s not a 999 emergency
- The mental health crisis team
- Durham 0191 388 3411
- QCS 01642 257020
(6.3) If it is believed there is a serious risk of the student harming themselves or others, staff should contact the appropriate emergency services. Having done this, University Security should be informed so that they can provide any additional support required by the emergency services. The University has two emergency numbers which enable staff to liaise with University Security about an incident. These numbers are:
- Durham - 42222
- Stockton - 40080
(6.4) If the member of staff dealing with the situation is not the student's Senior Tutor, once they have dealt with the immediate emergency situation they should ensure that the student's College is aware of the situation by informing the Senior Tutor. The Senior Tutor has responsibility for ensuring that the student's academic Department is kept appraised of the situation.
(6.5) A student whose behaviour is causing significant concern may refuse to accept help. In emergency situations action can still be taken by staff as set out in section 6.3 above. If the situation is not an immediate emergency but remains a cause for concern, staff can seek advice in writing (which may be in the form of an email) from: the student's Senior Tutor, a senior member of staff in the Student Counselling Service and other specialist mental health partners involved in providing care for the student concerned (for example the student’s psychologist, psychiatrist, GP, eating disorders specialist etc).
(7) Dealing with serious concerns about a student's behaviour
(7.1) Identifying Serious Concerns
(7.1.1) In some cases, the behaviour of a student may not present an immediate crisis but still causes concern. College and Departmental staff may become aware of students who they consider to be in slow decline and it is important to address this situation to avoid the possibility of it escalating into a crisis. College and Departmental staff may become aware that there is a problem when a student persistently misses lectures, fails to meet coursework deadlines or their academic performance deteriorates markedly. Fellow students may also bring concerns that they have about another student to the attention of College and/or Departmental staff.
There are also other warning signs that may be apparent to anyone who comes into contact with a student, including:
- behaviour that indicates that a student is persistently tense, sad or miserable;
- loud, agitated or aggressive behaviour;
- very withdrawn or unusually quiet behaviour;
- erratic or unpredictable behaviour;
- unusual uncharacteristic behaviour;
- unkempt personal appearance;
- signs of fatigue, exhaustion and lack of energy;
- limited concentration and inability to make decisions;
- problems maintaining academic and social relationships;
- visible bruising, cuts or recent scarring.
Appendix I appended to this policy provides a general guide to some of the most commonly used mental health terms produced by the Counselling Service.
(7.1.2) Most students are likely to be forthcoming if they are experiencing difficulties and concern is expressed, others may be more reticent so their difficulties may be more difficult to detect. Many students may feel embarrassed about the problems that they are facing and hope that, by doing nothing, the difficulties will go away.
(7.1.3) If staff have particular concerns about a student it may be appropriate to ask colleagues if they share concerns about the student's wellbeing. Staff can also seek advice from the University Counselling Service whose staff, while they will not be able to breach confidentiality, are happy to talk in general terms to anyone with worries about a student.
(7.2) How Should Staff Respond?
(7.2.1) The first step would normally be for the member of staff who has identified a cause for concern to speak to the student to try and find out more about their situation. Staff may discover that the student is already accessing appropriate support by seeing a counsellor, a doctor or other healthcare professional. Expressing concern for the welfare of the student in this way may reassure them and allay concerns staff may have had. However, if the conversation with the student does not provide this reassurance and the student is reluctant to talk, a judgement needs to be reached with regard to the best way to proceed. There are two main courses of action open: to signpost the student to an appropriate source of help or to seek further advice and guidance with regard to the best way to manage the situation.
Appendix II appended to this policy provides a flowchart for staff to follow when supporting a student with mental health difficulties.
(7.3) Signposting: Identifying Sources of Help and Advice
(7.3.1) The University has a number of specialist student support services with different areas of expertise. If staff talk to the student about their concerns and are aware of the range of provision they should be able to guide them to the appropriate service. Appendix III appended to this policy provides advice and guidance with regard to the services to which a student could be directed to enable staff to respond appropriately.
(7.3.2) Any student who believes they are experiencing mental health difficulties should be encouraged to seek help offered within the University (as outlined above) or to seek professional help from the range of services offered within the City and Region. The Counselling Service maintains a comprehensive index of external agencies and helplines that are well placed to support students experiencing particular difficulties. The index can be accessed via the University's website by using the following URL: www.durham.ac.uk/counselling.service/further/.
Alongside this, the Counselling Service can provide university staff with a contact list of the University’s mental health partners who regularly treat student mental health concerns. The partners have all agreed that they can be contacted directly about student mental health concerns.
(7.3.3) It is important to remember that Durham's students come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences and their reactions to difficulties may not be predictable. They may also feel less or more comfortable about seeking help from particular people or services. For example, some international students may be uncomfortable about the idea of counselling and reluctant to seek help from the Counselling Service, even if it seems the most appropriate place to which to refer them. If a student has already established a good relationship with any of the key services, this might provide the most appropriate initial referral point as the services are experienced in cross-referral if this becomes necessary.
(7.3.4) It is important that students are encouraged to access services that are acceptable to them. They should be encouraged to take the initiative and contact the relevant service themselves as they are more likely to derive benefit if they do this independently rather than being pushed into it.
(7.3.5) There may, however, be times when a student finds it difficult to make the first move especially if they are depressed or so ill that they lack insight into their mental wellbeing. On these occasions it may be helpful for staff to take a more active role by contacting the service on the student's behalf and making an appointment, preferably when the student is present in the room. Afterwards, staff can check whether the student attended and, if they felt unable to do so, offer further encouragement and/or advice about any alternative steps that might be helpful. If the student is agreeable it is helpful to ensure that a note of his or her concerns are recorded and filed confidentially.
(7.4) Seeking Further Advice and Guidance: Case Conferences
(7.4.1) In some cases, a student will present with difficulties that, whilst not an acute emergency, cause significant concern and require advice and input from more than one of the University's support services. In other cases, a pattern of behaviour may be displayed over time which may indicate that a student is in slow decline and there is potential for a crisis situation to develop. In these situations it is likely that staff will have sought to resolve matters informally through discussion with the student concerned and through interaction with the student support services set out in Appendix III. However, despite attempts at informal resolution, there may be occasions when the student's situation remains a cause for concern and, in such a scenario, it may be advisable for those members of staff who are actively involved in supporting the student to convene a case conference.
(7.4.2) A case conference is a small ad hoc group convened to address the needs and monitor the progress of particularly complex or higher profile cases. The use of a case conference can help to contain difficult situations, calibrate support and protect the interests of both the individual concerned, and equally importantly, those in the surrounding environment who may be seriously affected by disruption. By using this approach, members of staff are supported and protected when dealing with more complex cases by drawing upon the knowledge and expertise of others within the University and also by the sharing of responsibility through consensus decision making. If staff have any concerns about whether or not a case conference is the next appropriate next step, they can discuss the case with the Deputy Academic Registrar and/or the Director of the Counselling Service.
(7.4.3) The case conference would have the following objectives:
- to consider the background to the case;
- to determine what action is necessary to try and ensure the health and wellbeing of the individual concerned;
- to determine what action is necessary to protect any other students/staff who may be affected by the behaviour of the individual concerned;
- to consider any impact upon the individual's academic studies and whether these can be mitigated in any way.
(7.4.4) To convene a case conference the staff member concerned should follow the case conference protocol set out in Appendix IV. The student whose situation is under review should be invited to attend the case conference and offered the opportunity to be appropriately supported at the meeting by a friend2. The student should be informed in writing in advance of the meeting of the purpose of the case conference and should be provided with any documentary evidence that is to be considered; Appendix V provides a sample letter that can be sent to the student. If the student has not already declared that they are happy for a case conference to go ahead (for example by signing disability disclosure documentation) and they do not wish to attend then written consent should be sought to enable it to go ahead. On occasion a student may not recognise or be willing to accept that they have a difficulty and, as a consequence, are unlikely to be willing to attend a case conference or give their consent to it going ahead in their absence. If this scenario occurs then the case conference can take place if the University is satisfied that it is in the vital interests of the student and/or other students affected by the behaviour(s) of the student with mental health difficulties3. If there is any doubt about whether or not it is in the vital interests of the University to convene a case conference, a conference can still go ahead but the identity of the student should be protected from those who have not been given direct permission to know about the case. If staff have any concerns about whether or not a case conference can go ahead given the confidentiality issues involved they are advised to take advice from the Deputy Academic Registrar and/or the University's Information and Data Protection Manager.
(7.4.5) The membership of the case conference will depend upon the nature of the case under consideration. Consequently it is difficult to be prescriptive regarding the person who should Chair the case conference however, in most cases, it is likely to be The Deputy Academic Registrar, The Director of Counselling, the appropriate Senior Tutor or Head of College. It is also not possible to be prescriptive with regard to the membership of the case conference but the student and his or her friend should be asked to attend and serious consideration should be given to including some, or all, of the following.
- a senior representative of the Student Counselling Service;
- an external mental health practitioner who is involved in supporting the student; (if the student agrees to them being present);
- a senior representative of the University's Service for Students with Disabilities
- a senior representative of the student's college (this will, in most cases, be the Senior Tutor);
- a representative of the student's academic department;
- the Deputy Academic Registrar and/or the Assistant Registrar - Student Complaints and Appeals, Academic Support Office.
It is expected that professional advice should always be available at the case conference from a representative of at least, the Student Counselling Service and/or Disability Support and a mental health professional.
(7.4.6) Due to the nature of the difficulties they are experiencing, students who are suffering from mental health problems may, or may not, be receiving professional healthcare support. As noted in section 7.4.4 above, some may also not accept that they have a difficulty or may refuse to engage with the support services available to them both within the University and externally. Therefore whilst supporting medical evidence will always be helpful when attempting to reach a decision in terms of the action to be taken in relation to a particular case it may not be possible to obtain this. Decisions can still be made via a case conference even if it is not possible to ascertain a professional, certified medical opinion on the health of the student provided their behaviour is of sufficient cause for concern. Any decision regarding a student that does not include certified medical evidence should be backed up by appropriate professional advice and guidance provided, for example, by the Director of the Counselling Service and/or external agencies including GPs, the police and social services.
However, if a student is given time out from the University on the basis of a concession or is suspended on the grounds of their mental health difficulties then they must provide certified medical evidence before they are permitted to return to their studies (see sections 8 & 9 below).
(7.4.7) The member of staff convening the meeting will arrange the time and location for the meeting(s) and ensure that any relevant background information is provided. They will also arrange for an agreed note of the meeting(s) to be kept and to oversee any follow-up actions ensuring that these are undertaken. It is likely that a single meeting will be sufficient to address the issues underlying a particular case but it is at the discretion of the case conference whether they wish to meet again to review progress.
(7.4.8) Possible outcomes of the case conference might include, but are not restricted to:
- offering to request a ''grace'' period or a concession to take time out of their studies as defined in the Learning and Teaching handbook (it should be noted that the outcome of any request for a ''grace'' period or concession cannot be prejudged prior to its consideration by an appropriate senior Faculty Officer);
- asking the student to give an undertaking with regard to their future conduct;
- where no viable alternatives exist, suspending the student on the grounds of ill health, or other appropriate grounds, as set out in the University's General Regulations (see section 9 below).
(8) Taking Time Out from the University: Concessions
(8.1) Permission may be sought for students to suspend their studies in relation to mental health and this is done via the concession process. The concession process is normally initiated by the student concerned, and the University endeavours to respond flexibly to requests by students to suspend their studies on the grounds of mental health difficulties in order to provide the student with sufficient time to rest and recover. Any students considering such a concession on these grounds should contact their Senior Tutor or a member of staff in their academic department to discuss the options, and that if it is decided to proceed down this route the person the student has contacted will raise a concession on the student’s behalf. All requests for the suspension of study via a concession will be considered in line with University policy on the consideration of concessions. An appropriate time will be agreed for the concession, in negotiation with the student's College and Department taking account of medical evidence provided by the student. The outcome of any concession request cannot be assumed and all involved should wait until the decision is communicated to them before acting on the basis of the concession request. Students who are granted a concession to suspend their studies on the grounds of mental health difficulties will normally be required to leave their accommodation for the duration of their suspension if they are resident in College at the time the concession is granted. Such a concession will require the student to demonstrate that they are fit to return to their studies once the suspension period is nearing completion and this will require a report from suitably qualified medical professionals such as the student’s GP and/or other medical personnel involved in the student's care. Further information on concessions can be found in the Learning and Teaching handbook which is available on the intranet through the following link: www.durham.ac.uk/learningandteaching.handbook/2/4/
(8.2) In some cases, a need for a concession is indicated, but it is inappropriate or unhelpful to require the student to initiate the process and assemble the necessary supporting documentation (including medical evidence) because of the nature of their condition. In this instance a case conference should be convened as set out in section 7 above. This process provides for professional advice to be taken and for appropriate consideration of the situation by college and department. The outcome of the case conference in this circumstance would be a recommendation to the Head of Faculty or his/her representative that a concession be granted. Students who are granted a concession to interrupt their studies on the grounds of their mental health without providing original medical evidence will need to demonstrate that they are fit to return to their studies once the suspension period is nearing completion as set out in (8.1) above.
(9) Taking time out from the University: Suspension
(9.1) Whilst every effort is made to support students experiencing difficulties, the duty of care owed by the University to the wider student body and to staff takes priority where a student is exhibiting behaviour that is disruptive to the academic, social or business life of the University community. In such instances efforts will be made to resolve such problems through discussion with the individual concerned and in particular to point out the negative effect that their behaviour is having on others. However, if these efforts are unsuccessful, alternative strategies will be considered including, if necessary, recommending that the student withdraw voluntarily from the University for a suitable period to help facilitate their recovery using the concession route set out in 8.1 above. If a student is suffering from a serious mental health problem, withdrawing from the University may offer them the best chance of making a full recovery, particularly if they receive support from their family. Withdrawal will also be necessary if the student's mental condition is such that they are unable to meet course requirements, notwithstanding the support of the collegiate University and local medical services.
(9.2) However, if a student refuses to withdraw voluntarily it will be necessary to consider suspension. The University's General Regulations provide for the suspension of students on the grounds of health difficulties. Suspension may be recommended as the outcome of a case conference. A student may also be suspended as an emergency measure without prior need for a case conference. Details of the regulations can be found in General Regulation VI, Suspension. Students who are suspended under these regulations and who are resident in College will normally be required to leave their accommodation for the duration of their suspension. Students do have a right of appeal against any decision to suspend.
(9.3) Students who are suspended on the grounds of their mental health will only be allowed to resume their studies once the University is satisfied that they are medically fit to do so, as certified by an appropriate mental health practitioner i.e. the student’s psychiatrist, psychologist or GP and that there is appropriate educational and pastoral provision to support them. The University's General Regulations require a comprehensive report to be compiled for the consideration by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience) when deciding whether or not to allow a student suspended on the grounds of their mental health to return to the University.
(10) Other University Regulations
In accepting an offer of a place at the University, students agree to be bound by the University's regulations and codes of practice including General Regulation IV, discipline and the respect at work and study policy. These regulations/codes of practice apply to all students and a diagnosis of mental illness will not automatically mitigate the imposition of penalties for breaches of them. However, it is recognised that certain behaviours may result from undiagnosed mental health difficulties in which case, whilst due penalty for any offence will be imposed, the student will also be referred to the relevant support services for assessment. This will enable on-going support to be put in place if appropriate.
In cases where a disciplinary or harassment case highlights concern that a student is unfit to continue with their studies, or is exhibiting behaviour that is disruptive to the academic, social or business life of the University community, then they may be advised to temporarily withdraw from the University or if necessary, be suspended.
(11) Examination Arrangements
(11.1) Students whose condition may impact upon their examination performance may be eligible to apply for a concession. There are a range of examination concessions potentially available, including but not limited to allowing a student additional time, allowing them to take examinations in a separate room and providing them with a scribe.
(11.2) Disability Support is authorised to initiate examination concessions for students with disabilities and these are forwarded directly to the Student Registry. Disability Support require relevant supporting evidence and will copy the request for a concession to the student's College and to the academic Departments concerned. Further guidance is available on the intranet through the following link: www.durham.ac.uk/learningandteaching.handbook/6/2/8/
(12) Advice and Guidance
The University offers a session, run by the Counselling Service, as part of its equality and diversity training programme on how to support students with mental health difficulties. In addition, a series of training programmes are also available for staff working with disabled students. Further details can be found under 'Equality and Diversity' on the intranet through the following link: www.durham.ac.uk/training.course/
1 A student's permission should be sought in writing. If permission is given verbally by the student this should be followed up with written correspondence confirming that permission has been given and the date.
2 The friend may be a student currently registered at the University, a current, substantive or honorary member of staff of the University, or a current Sabbatical Officer of the University.
3 If it is believed that a student's mental health has deteriorated to such an extent that they have become a danger either to themselves or others then this overrides concerns regarding confidentiality (see section 5.2 above).