Confidentiality, expectations and boundaries

Confidentiality

When discussing confidential matters with a student, please ensure you take on board the following points. You are in a position of trust. Your discussions with your students should be treated as confidential.

Confidentiality is not secrecy, and some confidential issues will need to be shared with other named contacts and/or specialist services. If you feel a student may be at risk, contact the Student Services Hub.

If you are unsure about whether an issue should be kept confidential, or would like further advice on an issue, you can seek guidance from the Student Services Hub or your senior tutor anonymously in the first instance. All appropriate written records should be stored securely and out of plain sight of other people.

As a Departmental Disability Liaison Officer (DDLO), for example, you may wish to send an information email to a number of students. Please ensure that you use the ‘bcc’ facility available in Outlook or send each email separately. Any contact with students should be individual and the recipient should not have access to the names of other disabled students.

Some support services (such as disability and wellbeing services) can only pass on information once a student has given signed consent and agreed who they would like their information shared with.

Expectations

  • What you can expect


    • students to attend scheduled meetings (and give notice if they won’t be attending)
    • students to contact you if they need meetings beyond scheduled departmental provision
    • students to ask questions you can easily answer and others that will require you to direct them towards specialist services.

  • What is expected of you


    • like your students, you are available when you say you will be
    • within reason, you accommodate your students requests for meetings
    • you treat the information students share as confidential, unless absolutely necessary
    • you have an appreciation of equality and diversity matters
    • you keep up-to-date on support services available to students so that you can make appropriate referrals
    • you are not expected to have specialist pastoral support skills
    • you are not expected to offer counselling, specialist advice or ongoing emotional support

Boundaries

It is a good idea for everyone involved if boundaries are established at the beginning of the relationship. To a large extent, this will depend on individuals, but the key this is to establish expectation – both yours and your students. Where students are experiencing difficulties outside of your experience and expertise, it is important to utilise support services that can offer specialist help.

Boundaries to consider include:

  • when you are and are not available. (There is no expectation that you should be available outside normal working hours)
  • how long meetings will last
  • the best way to arrange a meeting
  • how quickly you will respond to email
  • what you can offer and what is offered centrally