Handling disclosure

Oxford Brookes University encourages students or prospective students to disclose any disability or information about additional requirements to ensure that we can discuss needs and appropriate adjustments.

Opportunities for students and prospective students to disclose are provided throughout the initial application process, however not all students will disclose at this point and we must at all times foster an atmosphere that is open and welcoming so that students feel comfortable about disclosing information about their support requirements.

Opportunities for disclosure should be made at regular intervals, for example prior to a work placement or fieldtrip, registering for examinations or as part of an introductory session to a course.

All members of University staff are responsible for ensuring that students and prospective students can disclose a disability, and that any such disclosure is handled sensitively and effectively.

What should I do if a student discloses a disability?

When a student discloses information to a member of staff then Oxford Brookes as a whole is deemed to know that information. It is vital therefore that if disclosure does occur the following process is followed.

If a student discloses that they have a disability, the member of staff to whom they disclose the information should discuss with them what they would like to happen.

Any student who discloses a disability should be advised to discuss their support requirements with the Student Disability Service (SDS), and information about the service should be provided to the student.

Where a disclosure is made, it must be handled as sensitive information the use of which is governed by the Data Protection Act. The student will need to decide whether they want their information to be kept confidential between them and that member of staff, or to let other members of staff know.

How do I proceed if the student is happy for information to be shared?

If the student is happy for information about the disability, or any adjustments that will be needed, to be known more widely, then the member of staff should discuss with them exactly what this means and who will know. An exchange of confidential information (ECIF) form should be used as the basis for this discussion and to record the student’s wishes.

A copy of the ECIF form should be kept in the student's confidential fileand any steps agreed with the student should be actioned. The ECIF form and any other confidential information should be kept in the appropriate manner which reflects the sensitivity of the information and the choices that the student has made about the sharing of this information.

If they feel confident to do so staff can discuss with the student the reasonable adjustments that they can make for them. They should, though, still advise the student to speak to the SDS as more support may be available for them and it could save the student time if they would like similar adjustments to be made on other modules.

How do I proceed if a student wishes the information to remain confidential?

If the student wants the information to be kept strictly confidential, the member of staff should discuss the consequences of this with the student – making it clear that the decision will limit the ‘reasonable adjustments’ that can be made. This will particularly be the case if the student does not wish their module leaders and/ or personal tutor to know about their disability.

If the student does not want any other member of staff to know about their disability, then it should be explained to them that a note will be included in their confidential file which simply states that: “On DATE a meeting was held between STUDENT NAME and STAFF NAME, during which confidential matters were discussed. STUDENT NAME has requested that these matters be kept confidential and the consequences of this have been discussed.” No further details will be included.

Where a student discloses a disability but requests that the member of staff does not tell anyone else about it, reasonable adjustments must still be made. The member of staff must discuss with the student what adjustments are needed and whether they can be put into effect without the fact of the student’s disability being revealed.

Members of staff can only break confidentiality about a student’s disability if they fear that the student may harm themselves or other people. If such a fear exists, members of staff should contact the Medical Centre immediately for advice.