Releasing information to parents, relatives and third parties
Parents, other relatives and third parties often contact the University to request personal data about students at the University. For instance, it is very common for parents, particularly those who are contributing to tuition fees, to ask for information about the academic progress of their son or daughter, to inquire how they are settling at the University or to try and find out where they are since they have not been in touch. Students, as adults with a right to privacy and protection of their personal information are entitled to an expectation of confidence. The University must also comply with all applicable data protection laws. For this reason, in many instances the University is not able to disclose personal data of students (even to parents) other than in the most exceptional of circumstances. Decisions on any disclosure of information will be made on a case by case basis and will take into account the privacy of the student at all times.
Privacy rights of the student
Data Protection laws protect an individual's rights to privacy with regards to his or her personal data. It establishes a set of principles and conditions about the use and disclosure of personal data with which the University must comply. This means that the University cannot pass on information about its students unless it is permitted to do so under the Act. In the majority of scenarios, the University will not disclose personal data about its students to third parties unless the student has given fully-informed consent for the information to be released.
What can the University tell you?
In some instances, even confirming or denying that an individual is a student here could infringe privacy and may, in extreme circumstances, put an individual in danger. Although the University understands that parents may have concerns about their son/daughter it cannot routinely disclose personal data if there is no authorisation to do so. However, if a student has consented to the release of information we are able to assist in sharing information. To obtain consent from student we usually ask that the student send an email (from their University email account) to firstname.lastname@example.org (or log a call on the student helpdesk software) stating that they are happy for us to speak with a specified person about a particular matter. We may also collect this consent when a student accesses certain University services such as Wellbeing.
We may also be able pass a message on to the student concerned or look at what support may be available internally but will not necessarily confirm that we have done this. We strongly encourage parents and relatives to contact the student direct to discuss any concerns.
We will happily discuss general information about, for example, University procedures, examination processes, the implications of failing a module, accommodation costs etc. You can contact the Student Services Centre on 0118 378 5555.
How can the University help if you have serious concerns?
There may be circumstances when you may have major concerns about your son or daughter - perhaps you have not heard from them for a long time or maybe you are concerned over a serious (but not vital) medical condition they have, or possibly you have received a worrying message about them in some way. In such cases if you leave contact details/correspondence with us, we will endeavour to pass them on and encourage the student (assuming the individual is a student at the University) to make contact or to look at what support we may be able to provide.
Data protection laws do permit the University to disclose information in certain exceptional circumstances where we believe there is a significant threat to life (where the disclosure is made to protect their vital interests). In such cases consent is not required. We may also disclose information in an emergency if the student has provided an emergency contact/next of kin.