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Professor Edward Peck publishes information sharing guidance

Today Professor Edward Peck, the Department for Education’s Higher Education Student Support Champion, has published guidance to support universities and accommodation providers develop information sharing processes where there is a concern for a student’s wellbeing and safety.

Higher education providers (HEPs) are already doing a lot to support students with their mental health and wellbeing, especially on campus, and the Student Support Champion has now published guidance to help them support students where they live. Talking to HEPs last summer, the Student Support Champion identified that ensuring consistent information sharing was a key to ensuring that students do not fall through the gaps of extensive student support that is on offer. A formalised, evidence informed, and transparent approach to information sharing was needed to ensure the sector had confidence in putting procedures in place to support most effectively students that are at risk, even if they are not on campus.

The Student Support Champion has worked with colleagues from Unipol, College and University Business Officers (CUBO), the NUS, the Information Commissioner’s Office (IOC) and Association of University and Legal Practitioners to develop this guidance. It tackles the core issues of how colleagues working in the sector should share information when there is risk to a student, even where they may not have explicit agreement from the student to do so.

Many students live in PBSAs (or purpose built student accommodation) where they might be living away from home for the first time, living with new people for the first time, or even living in a new country for the first time. It can be quite a vulnerable time. It is important that there are ways that universities can be alerted to urgent situations where a student might be at risk of or experiencing a serious mental health incident so that appropriate action can be taken as quickly as possible.

The hope is that that this guidance will inform discussions at a local level and dispel some of the myths around data protection, consent, and confidentiality.

Accommodation providers play a central role in supporting students who are suffering from poor mental health and wellbeing.

With the right procedures in place, as outlined in this guide, universities and accommodation providers can work together to enable timely and appropriate support for students who are suffering from poor wellbeing or mental health.

I would encourage universities to work with their partner accommodation partners and use this guide to establish more consistent, collaborative, and transparent approaches to sharing information.

Professor Edward Peck, Student Support Champion and Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham Trent University

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About Professor Edward Peck, Student Support Champion

Professor Edward Peck was appointed as the inaugural Student Support Champion in May 2022 by the then Higher and Further Education Minister Michelle Donelan.

The two-year role was established to help universities make sure students complete their studies and have access to extra help if they need it.

Professor Peck will advise universities on keeping students engaged with all aspects of campus life including how to spot the early warning signs of students who are struggling with their studies or mental health.

Professor Edward Peck CBE is Vice-Chancellor and President of Nottingham Trent University. He is Deputy Chair of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) and was previously a member of the Augar review team. Edward was awarded a CBE in the 2021 New Year Honours List for Services to Higher Education.