SOAS University of London

Student Advice and Wellbeing

Confidentiality and Data Protection

Confidentiality

Student Advice and Wellbeing takes confidentiality very seriously. Our confidentiality policy is accepted by the School.

We will not tell your department, family, doctor, friends or any other person that you have been in contact with Student Advice and Wellbeing or share any details you have disclosed, other than in the following exceptional circumstances:

  1. You may specifically request information to be passed to another person e.g. tutor, Registry, GP. In such circumstances we will normally agree with you the amount of information to be passed on and provide you with a copy of any correspondence.
  2. If it seems that you or another person is likely to be at risk, we may talk about the possibility of consulting additional support, such as your GP. Such contact would only be with your consent and after discussion, except in the most extreme circumstances.
  3. If we would be liable to legal action if the information was not disclosed, e.g. if subpoenaed by a Court of Law (very rare) or if required under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (even rarer). We do not need to break confidentiality if we learn that a crime has been or is likely to be committed and would not normally do so (e.g. drug use), unless you or someone else is a risk. In such circumstances we would discuss the implications with you.

Within Student Advice and Wellbeing it is sometimes useful for our staff members to speak to each other on your behalf, if you are in contact with different services (e.g. finance advice and accommodation advice). 

In order to make reasonable adjustments, the Disability & Neurodiversity Team may need to speak to your academic department office, the Exams office or other areas of SOAS.  This will be discussed with you so that you can specify who you agree may be contacted.

Supervision

All counsellors in the UK are required to have professional supervision from an independent, external consultant, experienced in counselling supervision. This person’s role is to ensure that we work ethically and effectively. In supervision sessions no identifying personal details are given about any of the individuals we work with. The consultant is also bound by a confidentiality code.

Record Keeping

Student Advice and Wellbeing keeps a student record on our online database, which is only accessible by our staff members on a need-to-know basis. You have access to this record at any time.

We keep records for the following purposes:

  1. Contact details so we can contact you if we have to cancel an appointment or if you miss an appointment without notice.
  2. For statistical purposes because we like to know the number of students we have seen over the year, the gender and ethnic balance, age range and range of enquiries. We use these statistics to inform and improve the service.
  3. Brief notes to remind us of the main points discussed and any action agreed. All records are kept secure with access only available to members of the relevant team and, in the case of your contact details, the service administrator so they can manage appointment times. While we have now moved to an online database as of December 2019, paper records from before this time are kept for a period of 6 years in accordance with GDPR. After this time they are destroyed.

Data Protection

Our practice in keeping records is informed by GDPR. Under GDPR, you have the right to see and correct any information kept on you as part of a ‘relevant filing system’ unless the information includes reference to an identified third party as their permission would be required before the information could be disclosed.

If you want to check your notes, you can ask to do so. You will normally be shown your notes face to face so any queries or corrections can be dealt with. We need a minimum of a week’s notice in order to make the necessary appointment.

Informed Consent

If you object to us keeping brief notes between sessions, please let us know in writing so we can keep your request on record.