Did you know UK Universities do not have a statutory LEGAL Duty of Care towards students?
This means that at best, when taken to court over a tragedy such as a student suicide, a university can only be held morally accountable for failure to act in the student’s best interests.
University staff are protected by a LEGAL duty of care, as are all UK employees.
College students and school pupils are protected by a LEGAL duty of care.
University students are not protected because at 18 years old, they are legally adults.
More on the nature and meaning of ‘legal duty of care’ can be accessed on the HEPI (Higher Education Policy Institute) UK website, especially within its post ‘Should there be a new statutory duty of care for students in higher education?’ 7 Nov 2022 by Bob Abrahart. Or search @WonkHE for Bob Abrahart article 10 Oct 2022 on the campaign to make duty of care LEGAL for UK Universities, rather than it be limited to a ‘moral intention’.
The UK Government’s response to date can be read on the same link https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/622847 where we can sign the petition that requires 100,000 signatures by 19 March 2023 for it to be considered for debate in Parliament. You need to be either a UK resident or have British citizenship to be eligible.
Otherwise, the UK Government remains stubborn that it is sufficient for universities to be “encouraged to redouble their prevention efforts”…
But we know this translates into extended waiting lists on already hugely over-burdened Student Counselling and Chaplaincy Services, which tend to be considered the ‘default pathway’, even though this was not their originally intended purpose.
More needs to be done, and could be done outwith the umbrella term ‘Student Services’. Look out for forthcoming Thought Pieces on this website’s Latest Insights page. Meantime, if you share this sense of urgency, please sign and also AMPLIFY to all your connections.
Currently, around 100 UK university students take their own lives every year. The dedicated website is www.forthe100.org.uk