Photograph of Oxford University skyline
Oxford University skyline.
Image credit: University of Oxford Images / John Cairns Photography

Student Welfare and Support Services: Confidentiality Statement

Student Welfare and Support Services (SWSS) sits within the University’s central Academic Administration Division and is made up of:

How we use student data

All the information students provide to Student Welfare and Support Services (SWSS) is treated confidentially in line with the University’s Guidance on Confidentiality in Student Welfare. We hold and use the information students provide to arrange support and deliver our services, and keep our records and data in accordance with the University Policy on Data Protection and the Student Privacy Policy.

When a student registers with one of the SWSS services, they will be told about how that service operates. For example, it is more common for the Disability Advisory Service to routinely ask for consent to share information with third parties in order to issue a Student Support Plan and to implement effective disability-support, than is typically necessary for the Counselling Service or Sexual Harassment and Violence Support Service. Counsellors also work to professional, ethical standards that inform decisions about when to share information without consent[1].

SWSS staff share relevant information about students as necessary with each other in order to provide effective and cohesive support. However, we do not discuss or share any details about students outside the department without their explicit agreement, except in exceptional circumstances outlined in the Guidance on Confidentiality in Student Welfare. For example, we would have a duty to inform other relevant people if we were concerned that there was a serious and imminent risk of harm to a student or a third party.

In some instances, we may need to share information about students outside SWSS to assist the wider collegiate University’s to support the welfare of its students, or to make reasonable adjustments for a disability, but we would not do this without obtaining the student’s express permission first, and will limit as far as possible the amount of information shared and the number of people it is shared with to the minimum necessary for the provision of effective support.

Sometimes students ask SWSS to provide their College, academic department, or other University service or department, with information about their wellbeing, disability, or interaction with our services, for example as part of a mitigating circumstances notice, extension request or complaint. In this situation, we will always seek the student’s specific consent and agree the detail of what information is to be shared and with whom[2].

Where anonymous student data is processed to understand patterns and trends in student welfare and for statutory reporting purposes, it cannot be tracked back to individuals.

Student rights    

Students may refuse or withdraw their consent for us to process their data or for certain processing activities at any time, and they can do this by emailing director.swss@admin.ox.ac.uk or contacting the relevant SWSS service directly. However, withdrawing or limiting consent may adversely affect our ability to help the student or for the collegiate University to make reasonable adjustments for disability.

Students may use our complaints policy if they are unhappy about how we have processed their data.

Retention

We retain data only for as long as we need it to meet our purposes, including any relating to legal, accounting, or reporting requirements, and work to the University’s Guidelines on the retention of student data and records.

[2] NB. The Disability Advisory Service (DAS) is not usually able to supply additional information for mitigating circumstances notices or extension requests beyond that already provided in a Student Support Plan (SSP) where one exists. DAS will instead normally recommend that the student includes their SSP with their application and explains in their personal statement how it relates to their request.

Was this page useful?*