Fit to Study?


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If you’re studying at the University of Greenwich, we’d assume you’ve got the academic ability to complete your course successfully. But from experience, the reasons why people fail or have to repeat their studies are often connected with personal difficulties. In a lot of cases, it’s to do with students’ physical or mental health. Sadly, we often don’t know about these problems until it is too late to offer support or to suggest ‘time out’ to deal with personal issues.

Both the Students’ Union and the University of Greenwich want to ensure that students who are struggling due to their health are given all reasonable support to complete their studies. If you are disabled, or have a mental health condition or other long-term health problem, the University may have a legal obligation to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to support you.

The university has implemented a Health, Wellbeing and Fitness to Study policy and procedure. The policy should ensure that University staff work with you to check that you’re managing, and to make sure you’re getting the support you need. In rare cases, students’ own behaviour may affect other students at the University. Ultimately, the University has a duty to provide a safe environment for all students. If a student’s behaviour, for whatever reason, is affecting others, the University can take steps to terminate that student’s studies, or to exclude them on a temporary basis. By working through this policy, we would want the University to support students who are able and willing to work with support staff.

Firstly, the policy gives clear expectations for how University staff will work with you, if they have any questions about whether you’re fit to study or not. If the way that you are treated differs from the policy, and you’re not happy with it, then contact your Students’ Union Advice Service for independent and confidential advice.

Secondly, the policy gives clear guidelines for your personal tutor and other University staff, so they know what to do and who to contact. The quicker you can get the right support, and the quicker that staff know what’s going on, the more likely you’ll be able to continue your studies and manage your personal situation. This may involve a decision to take time out from your studies, but it should be done to put you in as strong a position as you can be to come back. Terminating your studies should be a last resort for either yourself or for the University, and we would want you to know what your other options are first.

The policy ensures that YOU are involved in any decision about whether you’re fit to study or not, and how you can complete your studies with the minimum obstacles. You can seek support from the Students’ Union or from an independent support worker or family member, and the policy enables a review of any decision if you are not satisfied with it.

Your Personal Tutor will probably be the person who’d first raise any concerns about your fitness to study with you. They’re not expected to know everything, but they should be able to tell you where you can get support from either the University or the Students’ Union. And if you’ve already talked about your situation with your tutor, it may save you some effort if you’re willing for them to pass on information or to refer you to support services.

If you believe you’ve a long-term physical or mental health problem that affects your studies, contact the University’s Student Wellbeing Service. They can advise on support and adjustments, and on the Disabled Students’ Allowance if you’re eligible.

The University has a Mental Health Adviser to help co-ordinate support for students. It’s not necessary for you to have diagnosed condition or for you to be at crisis-point before getting support: we would encourage students to contact the Mental Health Adviser at any stage, whether you’re suffering from anxiety, depression, stress or if you have a long-term condition.

Don’t forget the University’s Counselling Service or the Listening Ear network of staff volunteer listeners. And if you’re struggling with the academic side, do make use of the Study Skills tutors based on each campus. The University Chaplaincy Team are here for all students, whether or not you’re a believer, and offer confidential and non-judgmental support. If you’re needing someone to talk to, to help you figure out things for yourself, they can be a good starting point.

The Students’ Union Advice Service offers free, independent and confidential advice on academic and welfare problems. If you want us to, we may also be able to come with you to meetings with University staff concerning your fitness to study. We can help you weigh up your options and, if wanted, help to advocate on your behalf with the University. We’re also the people to speak to if you are not happy with the way you have been treated by the University. If you need other support, we may be able to suggest external organisations to contact near where you live.

First, no-one should ask you to come for a meeting without explaining why they’re setting up a meeting. If you are not satisfied with the explanation, or you haven’t been given reasons, then get advice.

The Health, Wellbeing and Fitness to Study policy gives the detail on the 3 levels of meetings that are possible. The aim is to work with students informally, and by agreement wherever possible. You should be told why the meeting is happening, and have the chance to explain whether or not you agree that there’s a problem. You should be consulted on your needs and wishes, and ideally agree an action plan to help manage your situation. If there’s no agreement, or if students don’t attend the meeting, the policy allows the University to escalate the matter to Fitness to Study Panels which will review your case history. Panels could decide on your suspension or exclusion.

Yes.

You can bring a friend or family member to accompany you.

You have the right to be accompanied by a Students’ Union adviser if you wish at all levels. We would strongly encourage you to seek advice from campus Students’ Union Advice Service. Getting clear information about your rights and options may make you feel less stressed, and more confident to take part in the fitness to study process. If you have a support worker already (for example, a social worker, or an advocate from a mental health service) you can ask the University to allow them to accompany you or to represent you. The University will not permit legal representation at University meetings.

Ideally, you will know at the end of the meeting what your tutor or the panel decides. Either way, the University will write to you to summarise its decision and any actions for the University or you to take.

Get advice. Contact your Students’ Union adviser.

There is a Review and Appeal Panel to review the formal decisions at either the second or third stages of the procedure (when a Fitness to Study Panel is involved).

You may also want the Panel to review decisions made if your situation has changed since the Panel met.

 

If you’re not satisfied with service you’ve received from the University, you have the right to complain. As a starting-point, we would usually suggest contacting the team responsible, especially if your situation has changed or worsened, or it’s been a long time since you were in contact with them. If you want support to do this, you can contact your personal tutor or the Students’ Union Advice Service.

If the University knows about your situation, and knows that you haven’t had the support you’ve needed, it will be harder for the University to justify taking action that could lead to your studies being terminated. If in doubt, get advice.

If you are an International student and you are not well enough for the time being to continue your studies, it may affect your Student Visa. You or your family should contact the International Student Advice Service at the University for further information.

If you depend on funding from the Student Loans Company, contact the University Student Finance team for information. You may be eligible for repeat funding if you need to repeat a year of study later. If you’re a Home student and in financial hardship, speak to Student Finance or the Students’ Union Advice Service to check if you can get discretionary funding from the University.

Concerning your studies, the University should agree a provisional date to review if you are fit to return. University regulations expect students to complete studies within 5 years, or their studies may be terminated. Consult your Tutor or your Programme Leader on whether this time limit can be extended if you need to interrupt due to your health, and get independent advice if in doubt.

 

For free, independent and confidential advice and support, or just pointing in the right direction, contact your SU adviser.

 

Useful Information:

University of Greenwich Health, Wellbeing and Fitness to Study Policy
https://docs.gre.ac.uk/rep/sas/fitness-to-study-policy-and-procedure

Students’ Union, University of Greenwich
https://www.greenwichsu.co.uk/advice/
Phone: 020 8331 8267 (telephone advice/booking an appointment)
Email: suadvice@gre.ac.uk

GK Unions Advice Service
www.gkunions.co.uk/advice
Phone: 01634 88 89 89 (booking an appointment)
01634 88 88 55 (telephone advice)
Email: advice@gkunions.co.uk

University of Greenwich support
Phone: 020 8331 8000 (main switchboard)
Chaplaincy: http://www2.gre.ac.uk/current-students/support/chaplaincy
Counselling and Mental Health Advice: http://www2.gre.ac.uk/current-students/support/counselling
Disability & Dyslexia support: http://www2.gre.ac.uk/current-students/support/disability
Listening Ears: http://www2.gre.ac.uk/current-students/listening-ears
Study Skills: http://www.gre.ac.uk/studyskills