By Isaac Haigh, Investigations Correspondent
The changes will affect those struggling with university life
The University has announced it is altering its previously controversial ‘Fitness to Study’ policy following a campaign launched by Support Our Services (SOS), a student mental health advocacy group.
The original policy, which is aimed at helping students considered to be at risk of hurting themselves or others, had come under fire from students who had claimed it was unfair.
'we are committed to working closely with students to review and continuously improve our arrangements.' - University Spokesperson
Activists from the Support Our Services campaign argued that the policy had led to students ‘being kicked out of their halls [...], prevented from going into any University buildings’ and ‘subjected to an overly formal panel [...] to see what support the student needed to return to University’ as a result of the policy.
In a recent Facebook post, campaigners announced that, following a meeting with Alison Golden-Wright, the University’s Deputy Director of Student Services, the University had committed to sending some ‘positive’ changes to add to the implementation of its policy.
Agreed changes will include:
· Students being given their suspension letter in person, rather than by mail
· Students can now appeal their suspension straight away, instead of the current four-week waiting period
· Fitness to study panels now comprising of wellbeing staff as well as senior academic tutors
· All students on suspension now receive a wellbeing advisor and are allowed to enter the student health centre, rather than being banned from campus
· Students subject to the policy will also no longer be forced to leave their halls, an area of the policy branded as ‘one of the most distressing’ by campaigners.
· Moving students into a new halls, rather than making them stay at home, if it is thought they are negatively impacting the lives of fellow residents
In response to the changes a university spokesperson said: ‘We understand that the circumstances surrounding the need to enact the policy are often very difficult and sensitive, and we are committed to working closely with students to review and continuously improve our arrangements.’
The University also emphasised that the policy ‘is only enacted as a last resort when we have genuine and serious concerns for a student’s welfare and our ability to keep them safe.’
Ruth Day, President of Support Our Services told Epigram that she was‘extremely proud’ that ‘after months of campaigning on this issue, the Fitness to Study Policy is being reformed by the University.’
Featured image: Epigram / Isaac Haigh
What do you think of the new policy change?