Student Advice & Support Service Code of Practice
Our Code of Practice describes how we work and includes our Complaint Policy.
Guiding Principles of the Service
The Student Advice and Support Service (SASS) is part of Loughborough University’s Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity team which along with SASS comprises Student Wellbeing, and Disability Access and Wellbeing.
Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity is part of Student Services.
Those who use any of the services provided by SWAI can be assured of a student focussed, non-judgemental, empathic, and inclusive approach that recognises diversity of need. SWAI aims to enable all students to access course content and fully participate in learning activities and other aspects of student life.
A primary remit of the service is to support the university in meeting its legal responsibility to promote equality by working with individuals, schools and departments to remove structural, attitudinal and procedural barriers where identified.
The service also recognises that all students of 18 years and above are adults and as such have the right to choose how they manage their lives, disabilities, and challenges once they have received advice on their legal rights and responsibilities.
All information processed by SWAI is confidential and processed in line with GDPR subject to professional guidelines and safeguarding responsibilities.
The following are some specific principles that shape the way SASS approached its work with staff and students.
- SASS supports the University in its obligation to ensure that all students understand their rights, entitlements, and responsibilities so that they are empowered to make informed decisions to resolve difficulties they may encounter.
- SASS advises students, prospective students, recent graduates (with issues relating to their time at university), parents and in certain circumstances, dependents of students at Loughborough University.
- SASS supports the University’s commitment to widen participation and improve the experience of all students by contributing to student recruitment and retention.
- SASS provides immigration advice to Loughborough University students and prospective students in accordance with the Office of the Immigration Commissioner (OISC) regulations and has a legal requirement to comply with the OISC code of standards.
- SASS provides information and advice in a range of formats which seeks to be accessible to all.
- SASS acts in the best interest of the students using our services and will always put students interests first, subject to regulatory and legal requirements and our conflict of interest policy.
- Information pertaining to student queries will remain confidential subject to certain exceptions outlined in the Code Of Practice, and processed in line with GDPR.
Terms of Reference
- Student Advice and Support Service members of staff work within the framework of the Loughborough University Students’ Charter and University Policies
- The Student Advice and Support Service Charter sets out what our clients can expect of us, and what we can expect from our clients (see appendices).
- The Student Advice and Support Service is a member of AdviceUK and works within their membership requirements.
- Student Advice and Support Service members of staff are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority to give debt advice - Registration number 618794.
- Student Advice and Support Service members of staff are bound by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) Code of Standards for immigration advice, and the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) Code of Ethics.
- Student Advice and Support Service staffs work in compliance with the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) Policy Guidance for Student Visa Sponsor Licence holders.
- Student Advice and Support Service work within the student safety policies of Loughborough University
Consent / Legitimate interest
The Student Advice and Support Service has a right to process personal data under the legitimate interest permissions of the GDPR. This right is derived from the nature of the service we provide. We deem our legitimate interest to be based on the fact that we cannot provide our service to our clients if we do not process their data. This processing enables us to review a case to ensure a high standard of service (remedying this directly if there is a problem) and enables us to protect ourselves against any potential complaint.
A legitimate interest also gives us the opportunity to provide the best possible service by ensuring that any member of The Student Advice and Support Service can:
- assist with any case if the Adviser is away,
- ensure that any contact relating to a case is timely
- provide more advice or information about the appointment.
Collection and processing of your data
All students who contact the Student Advice and Support Service for advice will have a case created under their name in our secure electronic case management system (AdvicePro), which is only accessed by relevant members of Loughborough University & Loughborough University London Student Services. The case record will contain details of the presenting problem and any advice and / or support given, together with copies of emails sent to/from or on behalf of the client and with any relevant documents provided. We deem we have a legitimate interest to retain a client’s relevant data so we can defend ourselves against any potential complaint or legal claim. If a client does not want the details of their enquiry recorded, then they would need to access advice externally.
Right to withdraw consent
You have the right at any stage in the advice process to decide to withdraw specific aspects of consent (e.g. consent for us to act on your behalf, or for us to contact you etc). However, this could affect the service you receive from us. You should put your request in writing by email to firstname.lastname@example.org (being specific as to what area(s) you wish to withdraw your consent from) and your request will be considered within two weeks.
Right to access and receive a copy of your personal data
You have the right to access and receive a copy of your personal data, and other supplementary information. This is commonly referred to as a subject access request or 'SAR', and details of how to submit a SAR can be found on the University website: https://www.lboro.ac.uk/privacy/sar/
The Student Advice and Support Service is committed to providing a confidential advice service to its clients.
Third parties / agencies external to the University
We will not confirm the client’s presence in, use of, or details of their case to external agencies outside the University without first obtaining our client’s express consent. However, if a third party external to the University who we have contacted on behalf of the client asks us for an update on a case and the case is no longer active, we may inform the third party that we are no longer assisting the client and to ask them to contact the individual direct.
Third parties (e.g. AQS Assessors) will from time to time require access to client records for external audit purposes. Clients have the right to opt out from having their file included in the AQS audit process and would need to let their adviser know if this is the case.
Student Services and University colleagues
Details provided by a client will remain confidential within Student Services and this information will not be shared with colleagues in the wider University without the client's express consent. This does not prevent information that is already accessible to University colleagues being highlighted or queried where appropriate. Confidentiality will also be subject to certain exceptions:
- Where sharing information with other University colleagues outside of Student Services is necessary to progress a client’s case
- Where disclosure of information is required by law and/or institutional sponsorship responsibilities under the UKVI Student sponsor licence.
- Where there are safeguarding concerns.
- Where legal obligation requires disclosure of confidential information.
- Where a query or formal/informal complaint has been submitted to the University or the Office of the Independent Adjudicator and we need to share details of a client’s case to enable the complaint to be investigated fully and/or to clarify / correct information that has been purported to have been provided by the Student Advice and Support Service.
- When second tier advice agencies are used to inform the advice we give to clients, e.g. NHAS / UKCISA, (these agencies will also be bound by appropriate confidentiality policies).
- Where subject access requests for personal data have been submitted to the University, these will be handled by the Data Protection team who will ensure that requests are processed appropriately.
N.B. It is an offence for us to aid, abet, counsel or instigate a criminal offence. Therefore, we are obliged by law to tell clients if we believe they are committing or are about to commit fraud or another criminal offence. Fraud may include giving inaccurate information, e.g. to the DWP, Student Finance organisations, the UKVI or similar. We will not give any confidential information about clients to other parties (unless any of the circumstances in our conflict of interest policy apply), but neither will we do anything to support nor encourage illegal actions. Should the client continue with the illegal action we reserve the right to withdraw our services.
Conflict of Interest
A conflict of interest arises where the interests of the University, its students and employees are, or have the potential to be, incompatible with the interests of a client.
We aim to enable clients to resolve for themselves the difficulties or concerns they face.
Where appropriate, advisers may offer to undertake casework or offer representation (e.g. write letters on behalf of a student or accompany students to hearings or appeals). All work done by advisers will be in accordance with our policy on case recording and casework.
Clients should note, however, that where an enquiry poses a potential conflict of interest, we may be able to provide advice but will not be able to offer representation, and on occasion we will be unable to provide advice at all. Where appropriate we will provide details of appropriate alternative sources of advice.
Our approach towards conflict of interest is consistent with our aims and principles and helps to ensure all students have equal opportunity to seek advice and be represented.
Restrictions to/withdrawal of Service
The amount of time available to Student Advice and Support Service staff may affect their ability to assist clients. In exceptional circumstances, the SASS Manager will restrict or withdraw a client's use of our services. This could be for a variety of reasons and includes:
- The client requires more time than Advisers are able to give to their case
- The client has posed a real or perceived threat to the safety of staff or other clients e.g. by being aggressive or abusive
- The client persists in using discriminatory language or behaviour contrary to our Equal opportunities: Code of practice.
- SASS is committed to providing a working environment free from violence, intimidation, verbal and physical abuse and discriminatory language and behaviour. Where a student or potential client behaves in such a way that the SASS Manager / Senior Adviser decides our service must be withdrawn, we will refer or signpost to alternative source of advice and provide an explanation of the decision.
- The client does not fall into our client base as defined in our aims and principles
- The client is not using the service appropriately. e.g. where agreed action is to be taken by the Adviser and this action is undermined by other action taken independently by the client. In this situation the Adviser’s role may be restricted to one of giving information and pastoral support only (this may particularly apply to debt clients).
If you have a concern about the service provided by Student Advice and Support, you should normally raise it with the member of staff most closely involved at the earliest possible opportunity.
If the matter is not resolved by doing this, you should contact the Advice Manager (G.J.Langton@Lboro.ac.uk) or Head of Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity (K.L.Watts@lboro.ac.uk) to discuss this directly.
Complaints about immigration advice
The immigration advice given by the Student Advice and Support Service is also subject to the National Complaints Scheme operated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC). You can make a complaint to the Commissioner irrespective of whether you have made a complaint to SASS.
Further details can be found on the GOV.UK website or ask your Adviser for more details.
Complainants should note:
Whilst information pertaining to a complaint will be dealt with on a strictly need-to-know basis, the level of confidentiality which Student Advice and Support Service clients usually enjoy may need to be suspended during the investigation of a complaint.
If a query or formal/informal complaint is submitted to the University or the Office of the Independent Adjudicator about advice purported to have been provided by the Student Advice and Support Service, then we reserve the right to share details of your case without your permission to enable the query/complaint to be investigated fully and/or to clarify / correct the information purported to have been provided.
Students with characteristics of vulnerability
The Student Advice and Support Service (SASS) offers a hybrid of remote (MS Teams and phone) and in-person appointments (Loughborough campus) to support all Loughborough University prospective and current students on both campuses including those with characteristics of vulnerability.
Students who have characteristics of vulnerability are supported to access the service in the following ways:
- Appointments for SASS, Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity and Careers i.e. Student Services are set up in Target Connect which automatically delivers an email confirming the booking and reminders 24 hours before the appointment.
- Appointments can be facilitated with the support of SWAI colleagues from student wellbeing and student inclusion, so we can adapt the interview process to meet the individual needs of students.
- SWAI colleagues may also attend appointments to support students and to better inform the work they are doing with students and further can, with the agreement of the individual be included in SASS communication to aid joint working.
- When communicating with students, suitable comms will be identified and if written comms is used, it will be formatted to follow inclusive practise guidelines distributed by student inclusion.
Monitoring service delivery
Service delivery will be monitored and reviewed using Target Connect reports of appointment take-up and ‘no-shows’. Case outcomes (financial and non-financial) will be recorded in our case recording software and feedback forms sent to students who have received ongoing advice and support when their case is closed. Students will also be given the opportunity via the feedback form to request that SASS contact them if they would like to discuss any aspect of our service. Feedback on SASS and other services will also be collected centrally through the Student Services feedback survey and service delivery monitored for continued improvement.
Appendix 1: Organisational Structure
- Director of Student Services: Charlie Wheeldon
- Head of Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity: Karen Watts
- Student Advice and Support Manager: Gail Langton
- Senior Adviser (F/T): Katherine Weston
- Adviser (F/T): Andy Deane
- Adviser (F/T): Martin Matthews
- Adviser (P/T): Laura Penrose
- Adviser (P/T): Alice Brennan
- Adviser (P/T): Lou Waldron
- Adviser (P/T): Shivani Sharma
- Student Advice and Support Manager: Gail Langton
- Head of Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity: Karen Watts
Appendix 2: Client Charter
What we will do for you:
What we expect in return:
Offer you various ways of accessing our service; by email, remotely face to face by MS Teams and telephone, and in person. We also have information and resources on the Student Services website.
To keep appointments and be punctual for them. If you cannot attend, then you will contact us to cancel the appointment.
Provide free, confidential and accurate advice based on the facts you tell us and using the most up-to-date resources available to us*.
Be honest with us and inform us of any change in your circumstances. We need the full facts to advise you accurately.
Undertake case work for you when this has been mutually agreed, and time permits. You will be kept informed of the progress of this casework.
Carry out any actions you have agreed with your Adviser.
Investigate any complaints via the University's complaints procedure.
Let us know if you are not satisfied with any aspect of our service.
Treat you with respect and courtesy.
Treat us with respect and courtesy.
*Subject to certain exceptions outlined in our Code of Practice
Last Updated: 31st January 2024