Fitness to study policy reviewed by university

[Image: Moyan Brenm]

The university is considering adopting a new Fitness to Study Policy. The policy concerns students’ ability to “take part fully and effectively in their studies and in the life of the University community”. The policy was last updated in 2014 and the revision would allow for students’ study to be terminated as well as for students to be processed in absentia. The policy is designed to ensure that students do not compromise their own or others’ health during their time at York. The policy applies to all students at the University of York except, at present, those studying with the Hull York Medical School.

The new policy would provide provision for study to be either suspended or terminated where there are substantial concerns about the welfare of the student or their impact on others. This comes after all other avenues of support from the university have been exhausted but concerns about physical or mental wellbeing remain. The process, like before, is to be divided into three stages: the informal stage; the review and support planning stage; and the formal stage.

Changes to the regulations state: “The Vice-Chancellor may temporarily suspend any student from any class or classes, and may exclude any student from any part of the University or its precincts; provided that any such suspension or exclusion shall be reported to the Council and the Senate at their next meetings and shall cease not later than three months from the date of such suspension or exclusion. The Vice Chancellor may also terminate a student’s registration where recommendations have been made under the fitness to study, academic misconduct or disciplinary procedures.”

The informal stage involves notification of the student about concerns raised and an arranged meeting with staff to discuss them. The student is offered the support of campus services to deal with any issues. A review period of at least two weeks is agreed. If, following review, the concerns have been resolved, the case will be closed. If a resolution is not found, the process moves on to the second stage.

Stage two occurs if “Stage 1 has not been successful and/or if the concerns raised are too serious to be dealt with informally”. A written action plan is produced which may involve ongoing and regular monitoring during a second review period. All of this is documented in writing and sent to the student. Like stage one, the case is closed if the issues are resolved and the case moves on to the next stage if not.

The third stage, the formal stage, is reserved for serious or persistent concerns about the wellbeing of the student and/or their risk to others. A final plan for action is devised with a written record of the consequences should the action plan fail, namely a leave of absence, suspension or termination of studies, or the student’s failure of their programme. The proposed changes would allow for these stages to be completed without requiring the student attend in person, which is currently necessary.

Suspended students must prove fitness to study before returning, and their academic department is to provide advice and guidance to assist the student throughout this.