Frequently Asked Questions - Confidentiality and Disclosure

Frequently Asked Questions - Confidentiality and Disclosure

The Disability and Dyslexia Service aims to operate within a culture of trust, integrity, and a respect for the law and for the dignity of all individuals. Information received from, and about applicants and students in relation to disability is treated in the strictest confidence and in accordance with the details outlined in this policy.

The term Student(s) includes applicants and existing students with a disability. The term disability should be interpreted in accordance with the Equality Act 2010 and may therefore include students with specific learning difficulties like dyslexia, and a range of medical conditions.

1. Disclosure

a. Reasons Students disclose

The reason that the university asks Students for information about their disability is so that it can best consider suitable arrangements, including reasonable adjustments, to support them during their studies.

Most applicants will disclose on their UCAS or application form, which enables the Disability and Dyslexia Service to contact the applicant to find out more.   However, Students can disclose at any time before starting university or during their academic career. They are encouraged to contact the Disability and Dyslexia Service to discuss their support needs.  

b. The impact of disclosure on the application process

Disclosing a disability does not impact on the admissions decision for an applicant. An application is judged on its merits and the applicant’s potential ability to meet the competencies needed for the course with any reasonable adjustments in place.  

Disclosure enables adjustments to be considered. In very rare situations there may be course competencies that cannot be met even with inclusive teaching and reasonable adjustments in place. In these situations the admissions tutor will discuss the options with the applicant.

c. Optional disclosure 

Students do not have to disclose their disability to the university, but if they choose not to they may not receive all the support they need. The purpose of disclosing is to enable the university to consider a Student’s support entitlements and discuss with the student how they might be supported.

Note: some courses are externally regulated and require applicants to complete a declaration of health questionnaire and be assessed by an occupational health adviser. If this is relevant the applicant will be advised at the time of application.  These applicants still need to decide whether to formally disclose to the university for the purposes of accessing support through the Disability and Dyslexia Service.

d. What happens when a student discloses

Applicants who disclose will be invited to register on-line with the Disability and Dyslexia Service, and will be provided with information about how to organise their support at University, including applying for Disabled Students Allowance.    Applicants with complex needs are encouraged to come and meet with one of the Disability and Dyslexia Service Disability Advisers as early as possible and prior to commencing their course to discuss their support needs whilst at University.

Existing students who disclose will also be invited to register on-line with the Disability and Dyslexia Service and should book an appointment through firstpoint  with a Disability Adviser to discuss their needs.

Once the Disability and Dyslexia Service has discussed a package of support with a Student it will, subject to paragraph 2a below, share relevant information with key members of university staff.  

e. Disclosure on placement

The university will not automatically disclose a Student’s disability or support needs to a placement provider, although some academic departments will actively support Students through this process. Student’s needing assistance with placement disclosure should speak with either their academic department or a member of the Disability and Dyslexia Service.

2. Confidentiality and sharing of disclosed information

a. Student consent to share disability information

Information about a Student’s disability is held confidentially. However, with the Student’s consent the Disability and Dyslexia Service will share disability related information on a need to know basis with other members of staff, or outside bodies (e.g. Student Finance England) to ensure a student is appropriately supported.   

Students are asked for their written consent to share information when they register with the Disability and Dyslexia Service and a Student can choose their preferred level of disclosure. Usually the Disability and Dyslexia Service will only share disability information in accordance with the Student’s wishes.

If a student does not want their support needs disclosed outside of the Disability and Dyslexia Service, then this is usually respected. The implications of this decision – that the student might not get the support that they need – is explained in full to them. The Student can review this decision with the Disability and Dyslexia Service at any time.

b. Reasons to break confidentiality

Rarely the Disability and Dyslexia Service will be required to share information without a Student’s consent. This will only occur when:

• A Student is considered to be at immediate or serious risk of harm to them self or others

• Legal proceedings demand information is disclosed.

c. Sharing information with Parents/Guardians

The Disability and Dyslexia Service note that they do not act in loco parentis, even if a Student is under 18 years old. 

General enquiries made by parents or guardians on behalf of students with regard to the nature and level of provision available in relation to disability are answered fully.

Specific requests for information about the degree and/or nature of support being received by a son or daughter whilst on course are not permitted without the written consent of the Student.  Disability and Dyslexia Service staff politely explain its policy in relation to students’ rights to privacy and confidentiality.

d. Disability information disclosed to any member of UW staff

Where a student makes a disclosure to any member of University staff about their disability, the staff member will ask the student if they have already disclosed and been in touch with the Disability and Dyslexia.

If the student has not previously declared, then the staff member must follow the instructions in DDS Staff Guidance Note: Advice on disclosure of a disability  to ensure that the University’s legal duty to support the student is met.

3. Retention of records

Students’ files will be kept for a minimum of 6 years after they have left University (and no longer than 10 years). Files are kept electronically and/or in locked cabinets which are accessible only by Disability and Dyslexia Service Staff. At the end of this period files will be destroyed.

What is the purpose of applicants or existing students disclosing their disability to the university?

The main reason that the university asks you for information about your disability is so that it can make suitable arrangements, including reasonable adjustments, to support you during your studies.

How do I disclose?

Most applicants will disclose on their UCAS or application form, which gets passed to the Disability and Dyslexia Service to follow up.   Applicants who haven’t done so, and existing students who wish to disclose at any stage during the academic career, can do so by contacting the Disability and Dyslexia Service to discuss their support needs.

Does disclosing my disability affect my application?

Disclosing your disability does not impact on the admissions decision . Your application is judged on its merits and your potential ability to meet the competences needed for the course with reasonable adjustments in place. Disclosing your disability ,however, enables  any reasonable adjustments to be considered. In very rare situations there may be course competences that cannot be met even with reasonable adjustments. In these situations the admissions tutor will discuss the options with you.

Do I have to disclose?

You do not have to disclose your disability to the university, but if you choose not to you may not receive all the support you need. The purpose of disclosing is so that the university can talk to you about your support entitlements and what can be make available to you in this context.

Please note that some courses are externally regulated and require applicants to complete a declaration of health questionnaire and be assessed by an occupational health advisor. If this is relevant to your chosen course you will be advised of this at the time of application. These applicants still need to decide whether to formally disclose to the university for the purposes of accessing support through the Disability and Dyslexia Service.

What happens once I disclose?

Applicants who disclose will be sent information early in the summer prior to entry (or immediately after clearing if appropriate) about how to organise their support at University, including how to apply for Disabled Students Allowance. Applicants with complex needs are encouraged to come and meet with one of the Disability and Dyslexia Service team members during the summer to discuss their support needs during their time with us.

Existing students who disclose should contact us to discuss their support needs as soon as possible.

Once we have established what support should be provided then, usually with the applicant or student’s consent, we will share this information with key members of university staff so they know how best to provide support. In most cases applicants and students are given options about how much information they wish to disclose.

If my course involves placements, and I have already disclosed my disability to the university, do I need to disclose again to the placement provider?

The university will not automatically disclose your disability or support needs to your placement provider, although some academic departments do actively support students through this process.   If you need assistance disclosing please speak with either your academic department or the Disability and Dyslexia as to how to proceed.