Staff Student Relationships Policy

Date approved: 26 April 2021
Date of next review: 26 April 2024
Document owner: Human Resources
Document approved by: HR Committee

Introduction

The policy generally relates to members of staff or fellow who has any responsibility for a student with whom they are having or have had a relationship.

  1. This policy covers current and former close personal or intimate relationships, however brief, between members of staff, fellows and students where the staff member or fellow has any responsibility for the student. These include, but are not limited to: marital, sexual, romantic, or emotional relationships whether they are conducted in person or online.
    For the purposes of this policy, a ‘member of staff’ should be understood as including but not limited to any individual who is working within the college under a formal contract of employment or as a casual paid worker, and any other individual (such as fellows and visiting academics) to whom the college offers any of the privileges or facilities normally available to its employees.
    A student should be understood as any individual who is studying for a postgraduate qualification (which includes the clinical medical students who are enrolled as graduates on an undergraduate programme), or who is a student on any course arranged by or through the college.
  2. The college regards the professional relationship between members of staff and students as central to the student’s educational development and wellbeing. Professional relationships are any in which the staff member through his or her employment with the college has any educational, administrative, pastoral or supervisory involvement with a student. The college reminds staff of the importance of maintaining academic and professional integrity and of their responsibility for the welfare of students.
  3. Implicit in the professional role of members of staff is an obligation to ensure that conflicts of interest do not arise, and that relationships with students for whom the staff member has any responsibility remain strictly professional, respecting the trust inherent in them.
  4. While the college does not wish to regulate the private lives of its staff, it strongly advises staff not to enter into a close personal or intimate relationship with a student for whom they have any responsibility, and alerts them to the complications that may result.
  5. To embark on a close personal or intimate relationship with a student often involves difficulties rooted in the inequalities of power as well as problems in maintaining the boundaries of professional and personal life. Also, these relationships could disrupt the teaching and learning environment for other students and colleagues and might lead to accusations of favouritism or bias and undermine trust in the academic process.
    Guidance for Staff on Relationships and the need for Disclosure
  6. The college requires that any close personal or intimate relationship with a student, or the likely commencement of such a relationship, for whom a staff member has any responsibility is brought to the attention of the member of staff’s manager, a college officer (Senior Tutor, Bursar or Principal) or another senior manager, in order that action can be taken to mitigate any unintended
    consequences. The member of staff should also disclose any former relationship with a current student for whom they are given or are to be given responsibility. If the staff member is unsure if they have any responsibility for the student, they should declare the relationship to their manager, in order that they can assess the risk of unintended consequences arising. Any declaration of this kind will, so far as possible and subject to the specific provisions of this policy, be treated in confidence, and every effort will be made to ensure that it does not disadvantage either party with regard to their professional advancement or academic progress.
  7. Disciplinary action may be taken against a member of staff who fails to declare a close personal or intimate relationship, or the likely commencement of such relationship, as required by this policy as soon as is practically possible and in every case within one week of the relationship commencing or the assignment of responsibility for a student whom the staff member has a current or prior relationship.
  8. Attention is drawn to the fact that relationships involving students under the age of eighteen or vulnerable adults, could fall within the scope of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 relating to persons in positions of trust having sexual relations with children under eighteen or vulnerable adults. Members of staff must not enter into a close personal or intimate relationship with a student under eighteen years of age or a vulnerable adult for whom they have responsibility under any circumstances.
  9. If a close personal or intimate relationship is pre-existing between a member of staff and a candidate for admission as a student, the member of staff must make their manager or another senior manager aware of it at the outset of the admissions exercise, so that steps can be taken to avoid any conflict of interest arising. The matter will, as far as possible, be handled in confidence to ensure that there is no detriment to the candidate.

Guidance for staff on relationships and the need for disclosure

  1. If such a relationship develops during the course of employment or study between a member of staff and a student for whom they have a professional responsibility, this must be disclosed by the member of staff to their manager or another senior manager as early as possible so they can take steps to:
    • consult with the member of staff and the student to identify any impact their relationship may have within the College;
    • facilitate the re-organisation of duties to minimise contact and ensure the member of staff is not tutoring, supervising, assessing, providing pastoral care, or professionally responsible for administering activities in which the student is involved;
    • and, ensure that appropriate action is taken to minimise the potential effect of the relationship on other staff and/or students.
  2. The manager or senior manager should ensure wherever possible that the member of staff does not have sole responsibility for supervising the student’s work or for taking decisions that affect the student.
  3. The manager or senior manager will deal with the situation in a manner that protects the dignity and privacy of all parties, and those involved will be expected to comply with any reasonable decision or action. There will be no obligation on the parties involved to keep their relationship confidential.