This procedure covers what you can expect if UEA has concerns about your absence from classes, missed coursework submission or other indications that you are not engaging with your studies.

It also covers what you can expect if there are issues which may be affecting your own safety or where your behaviour may be impacting on the welfare of other students and staff.

It covers what steps UEA will put in place to help you to improve your engagement. It is for undergraduate and taught postgraduate students: postgraduate research students have a separate procedure. It should be read in conjunction with General Regulation 13, Engagement,  which sets out the engagement regulations you must abide by.

There are other documents which you may wish to refer to. In particular, the Student Partnership Agreement provides an overview of UEA's and students’ mutual responsibilities and obligations in establishing an outstanding and vibrant community of learning.

If you have any queries about this procedure please contact your Academic Adviser, your LTS Hub, Student Services or the SU Advice Centre.

The University of East Anglia (UEA) recognises that studying at university can, at times, be difficult and stressful.  The University will endeavour to support you at those times when personal difficulties hinder your ability to engage with your studies and university life. 

All areas of UEA have a part to play in creating and maintaining a culture which promotes positive mental health and wellbeing and supports your learning and teaching to help you to succeed in your studies and enrich your university experience. 

UEA has a diverse, inclusive and compassionate community among staff and students, one which supports you to disclose difficulties, and provides you with support, advice and guidance tailored to your needs. In signposting and working with key services, UEA is committed to providing you with consistent support, helping to ensure that no student feels left behind. 

Working in partnership with the Students' Union, UEA is committed to regularly evaluating its procedures to ensure that student wellbeing is a priority and ensuring that staff have the appropriate training for their roles.

UEA and the Students’ Union provide you with opportunities to engage with university life, such as living in a community, volunteering, sports and social events, and work experience. The extent of your engagement with university life will depend on your individual circumstances; however, all students are expected to behave in a way which does not prevent you or others in the wider community from participating in academic and social pursuits in a safe and legal manner.  

You are expected to read emails sent to you by the University within 48 hours and to action any requests contained in the emails, provided that you are in a position to do so.

You are expected to engage with your academic study by:

  • Attending and participating in all teaching events and activities required as part of your course;
  • Participating in all assessments, formative and summative, including preparation, submission and reflection on any assessment feedback;
  • Attending meetings arranged with your Academic Adviser.

If you are unable to attend a timetabled teaching event, either in person or online, you must inform UEA via the online absence reporting system; guidance is available here.

If you have an extenuating circumstance, such as a personal difficulty or health problem, which has a significantly negative impact on your capacity to perform in any assessment, you should follow the Extenuating Circumstances (Taught Programmes) Policy and Regulations so that a remedy or adjustment can be put in place. 

If you are enrolled on a programme of study that may lead to admission to a regulated profession overseen by a Professional, Statutory or Regulatory body, not engaging with your course may be considered under General Regulation 14, Professional misconduct and/or unsuitability/fitness to practice and Disciplinary Procedures Part F paragraph 5.

If you are a student subject to immigration rules, for example by holding a Tier 4 or Student visa, not engaging with your course could result in your suspension from UEA and your permission to remain in the United Kingdom being curtailed (General Regulation 5, Students subject to immigration rules and Disciplinary Procedures Part E paragraph 2).

UEA monitors your engagement with your studies so that any engagement difficulties can be identified and you can be supported as quickly as possible.  It will monitor engagement through a combination of

    • Your attendance at teaching events relevant to your course;
    • Your assessment submissions;
    • Your marks achieved in your assessments.

This monitoring will be carried out by relevant people from your School, Student Services Faculty Embedded Team and the Learning and Teaching Service.

In addition to potential lack of engagement identified through the routine monitoring detailed above, a member of staff will meet with you if:

    • The extent and severity of extenuating circumstances you have reported suggest that you need additional support;
    • A member of staff or other concerned individual raises their concerns about you.

If UEA has concerns about your potential lack of engagement and the possible implications on you and your studies, you will be contacted by the Faculty Embedded Team to remind you of where you can access support to help with your engagement. If it appears that this does not resolve your engagement, a meeting will be arranged, as described below. These steps are to help you and if you are invited to a meeting you must attend, either remotely eg via Microsoft Teams or Skype, or in person. At these meetings:

  • Staff will discuss with you why UEA is concerned about you;
  • You will have the opportunity to talk about any problems you are having which are affecting your engagement;
  • Together, we will discuss what actions you can follow to improve your engagement;
  • A brief summary of actions will be recorded on eVision and will be available for you to view on the ‘Adviser Meeting’ section of your student information.

If there are serious concerns about your wellbeing and the potential impact on yourself and/or others, there may be an immediate need to discuss your situation in an ‘Ability to Engage’ Panel meeting.

If your attendance and engagement has not improved following intitial contact from the Faculty Embedded Administrator, you will be invited to meet with someone from your School such as your Academic Adviser or the School Engagement Officer. 

  • This is your opportunity to discuss issues affecting your engagement with your studies and what steps you and UEA can put in place to support you. To ensure we can give you the help you need, you will need to tell us what is preventing your engagement
  • You will be reminded of the academic, learning and teaching support available
  • You will be reminded of the requirements of engagement on your course and the potential impact of not keeping up to date with course content and submissions 
  • If a welfare concern is identified as the reason, you will be referred to a Welfare Engagement Meeting 
  • We will agree actions to improve your attendance and catch up with missed work 
  • A summary of actions will be recorded on e:Vision through the Adviser Meeting Task

If you do not attend the meeting, without a good reason for your absence, you will be may be referred to your Head of School for consideration of further action. A Head of School meeting outcome may involve referral to Senate Student Discipline Committee (SSDC) under general regulation 13.

Where a welfare concern has been identified, the Faculty Embedded Team will consider what course of action to take to best support you. This may be a meeting with you to discuss your engagement and welfare concerns and possible solutions.  You will meet with Wellbeing Adviser, and if appropriate other people may be asked to attend, such as your Academic Adviser, Senior Adviser, a member of LTS, or your relative. They will discuss with you in more detail the issues affecting your welfare and wellbeing, and possible actions to help and support you, and improve your engagement.

The Welfare Engagement meeting should cover:

    1. Presenting concern
    2. How long it has been going on
    3. How it is affecting your academic studies
    4. How it is affecting your daily life
    5. What you have tried so far to address the concern and has there been any success
    6. How motivated does you feel to address the concern
    7. What your understanding is of the potential impact on your studies and daily life if you do not address it
    8. Assessment of risk and safety plan if required
    9. Discussion and presentation of actions/interventions with you.

It is important that you participate and engage with the process; if you think it would be helpful you can bring a friend along or ask to speak to a member of staff privately. If you do not participate in the process you may be in breach of University regulations which results in a disciplinary process which could require your withdrawal from your course and the University. 


Following the discussions, we will agree the most appropriate outcome for your situation. This might be an Action Plan or some time away from your studies: 

An Engagement Action Plan designed to address any welfare or wellbeing issues

    • This will be shared with you and with those staff at UEA responsible for your student record and for supporting you.
    • If you have any queries or concerns about your Engagement Plan you should contact the person you met with, or a member of Student Services, to discuss your concerns and agree a way forward.   

Your engagement will continue to be monitored and if it does not improve you will be contacted for a review.


Consideration and application to interrupt your studies if your difficulties are such that some time away from the university would be helpful.


Referral to an Ability to Engage Meeting.


If you are not engaging and there are no health or other mitigating circumstance to explain your non-engagement, your case would be referred to your Head of School for potential disciplinary action in accordance with General Regulation 13. This may involve referral to the Senate Student Discipline Committee and your withdrawal from UEA. Information about this is available in the University Disciplinary and Investigative Procedures and Powers, Part F: Senate Student Discipline Committee, Paragraph 5.

If you do not attend the Meeting without good reason your case would be referred to your Head of School for potential disciplinary action in accordance with General Regulstion 13. 


The ability to engage process is enacted where there are serious concerns about a student’s wellbeing and its potential impact on themselves and/or others. An ability to engage meeting can happen at any point in the engagement process and a student’s time at university. 

The Ability to Engage Panel Meeting

The aim of the meeting 

The aim of the meeting is to have a constructive discussion about what is best for the student in the present circumstances.  The panel will consider the students' engagement with their learning and teaching, the students' health and wellbeing, focusing specifically on any concerns related to risk of harm to self or others, and the ability to remain safely on campus if they are in university accommodation.  The panel will also consider the students' capacity to make an informed decision about their studies and any behaviours of concern.  

Being informed a meeting has been arranged 

The student will be informed that an ability to engage meeting has been called via letter which will be emailed to the students UEA and personal email address (if one is given on evision).  The letter sets out the meeting arrangements, the time and place as well as who will be on the Panel.  this letter will ordinarily be sent at least 5 working days in advance of the meeting, however in exceptional circumstances where it is considered that it is not safe to wait for this time period the meeting can be called sooner.  

Possible outcomes 

The Panel can make a number of outcome decisions; 
•    enforced interruption to study 
•    referral to a Welfare Engagement Meeting 
•    agree EC’s and other academic concessions as agreed appropriate, including a students request to voluntarily interrupt their studies  
•    recommend head of school consideration of referral for potential disciplinary action in accordance with General Regulation 13.  

The panel 

The panel will usually consist of the associate director of student services (wellbeing) acting as Chair, one of the Heads of Student Services (Wellbeing), and the students Head of School, DLO or senior advisor.  Students are welcome to bring a family member or other trusted contact or an SU Adviser along to the meeting to support them.  On occasion if the student is engaged with specialist or NHS services, with their consent, a member of that care team may also be invited.    In addition to there will also be secretarial support in order to capture the main discussion points, any action points and the panel decision.  Full minutes are not taken. 

What happens in the meeting 

The Panel members will introduce themselves and the chair will outline the reasons that the meeting has been called and the potential outcomes of the meeting.  The Head of wellbeing will discuss the concerns relating to the students wellbeing with them to gain an understanding of the circumstances of concern and the students views on the situation as well as any actions being taken to manage these.  The school representative will then discuss with the student their academic progress, giving particular consideration to any concerns about engagement with learning and teaching sessions, progress with summative work and academic success.  This is also an opportunity for the student to discuss any concerns they have with their academic work, adjustments they feel would be helpful or general queries about their studies.  All panel members may ask the student further questions following these two focused discussions and will give the student the opportunity to inform the Panel of anything that they want them to take into consideration. The panel may discuss a break in studies with the student and how they would feel about this from both a wellbeing and academic perspective.  

The meeting outcome and letter

Usually the panel will not reach a decision in the meeting, but will meet without the student following the ability to engage meeting and to consider which outcome would be most appropriate for the students circumstances. The chair will then write to the student with this outcome within 5 working days.  If it is felt more appropriate the student can be asked to meet with a member of the panel or another member of the wellbeing service to discuss the outcome in addition to this being sent in a letter.  This will be particularly important if there are concerns about escalating risk.  

The panel secretary does not take full minutes of the meeting, the letter will reflect all key discussion points, any action points, the panel decision and information on what to do if the student has any queries or would like to challenge the decision.  

Outcome detail 

Welfare engagement meeting 

Where the Panel is satisfied that the students’ ability to engage is not impaired to such a degree that a mandatory interruption is appropriate, the case shall be referred to a Welfare Engagement Meeting.  That meeting will determine how best the student can be supported in continuing their studies and what ongoing monitoring may be required to ensure that their ability to engage is kept under review for as long as the relevant concerns persist.

Mandatory interruption 

Where the Panel regards the continuation of the students’ studies to pose a significant risk to the student and/or others or it considers that the students’ ability to engage is sufficiently undermined by their current circumstances it will enforce a mandatory period of interruption. 

The interruption period would be no longer than 12 months in the first instance, but the students return would be dependent on them being fit to return to their studies so may be extended.  The students fitness to return will be assessed either by the universities occupational health partners, or if the student is under the care of a specialist NHS team their lead care professional.  

As a follow up to the Panel’s decision to enforce a period of interruption, the School should discuss the implications for the student’s academic programme with the LTS Hub team. Together, the School and LTS will decide on which modules will be available to the student on their return, and any regulation implications, and inform the student as soon as possible.

If the student resides in university accommodation, they will be given notice to quit as it is not possible for students on a break in studies to reside on campus.  The student ordinarily be given 7 days to vacate their accommodation, however this is flexible dependent of the students situation and level of risk.  

LTS will inform other relevant bodies, including student finance England.  For support in understanding student finance England impact a student can contact student services student life finance team.*

Students should note that whilst on a break in studies they will not have access to disabled students’ allowance (DSA) support and any support offered such as a specialist mentor should be paused.  Students who continue to access this support whilst on a break cold be liable for the cost of this support as DSA funding will cease whilst the student is on a break.  

If the panel feels that the student is at significant risk of harm to themselves, they may make the decision to inform the students next of kin or if they have ‘opted in’ their trusted contact.  Permission to do so will always be sort from the student, and confidentiality will only be breached in circumstances where there are concerns for the student’s safety and where it is believed informing the next of kin/ nominated contact could reduce this risk.   

Appealing the Outcome of the Ability to Engage Panel

Where a student has been required to take a mandatory break in studies the student has a right to request a second opinion review of the Panel’s decision within 5 working days of the date of the outcome letter. 

To request the review the student should email the chair of the panel and the note taker detailing the reason that they disagree with the outcome and any information they feel was not adequately considered by the panel.  The appeal request should not introduce new information that was not shared with the panel.  

The Chair of the panel will contact the PVC to arrange the appeal review and provide all related documentation, including the students request and rational.  

This review will be carried out by the PVC Student Education and Experience or their nominee. 

The reviewer will review the ability to engage paperwork and the decision rational, along with the students rational for requesting the review.  

The review will ensure that the panel considered all relevant information in the meeting in coming to their decision.  

The aim of the review is not for the PVC to make a ‘clinical judgement’ but ensure that procedure was followed, and all relevant information adequately considered.  

The review will not involve a further panel meeting nor a meeting with the student.  

The review will be concluded within 5 working days of the request being received. 

If the PVC review of the case and the panel decision concludes that pertinent issues were missed or overlooked the PVC may require that the panel reconvene within 5 working days to review the decision. 

The student’s status will remain interrupted unless and until the panel reverse their decision, including whilst the review process is undertaken.  This is since mandatory interruptions are made based on concerns for risk or capacity and therefore it is not deemed safe to ‘pause’ this decision whilst awaiting a second opinion.  

If the review of the panel’s decision results in the decision being reversed the school will work with the student to agree a plan to assist them in catching up with any missed classes and agree ECs as appropriate considering the disruption to their studies.  

Equally if a student has been required to leave university accommodation because of the panel’s decision to mandatorily interrupt the student, student services staff will work with accommodation to ensure that the student is offered appropriate accommodation on site, where appropriate and safe to do so.  Every effort will be made to place the student back in the same accommodation they were in previously.  If the student resides off campus the university have no ability to either require a student to leave their accommodation nor reinstate accommodation.    

If following the second opinion review the student remains unhappy with the decision or feels that the process has not been followed appropriately then a complaint can be made following the non-academic complaints procedure which can be found on our appeals and complaints* page or submit a complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator. How to complain to us - OIAHE.

Request to withdraw whilst on a mandatory break in studies 

If a student on a mandatory break in studies makes a request to withdraw, LTS should discuss this request with the risk management and safeguarding team in STS prior to processing the request to ensure that the student has capacity to make an informed decision.  

Return to Study following a mandatory break in studies

The student may return to study following a period of required interruption provided that UEA is satisfied that the issues giving rise to the interruption have been satisfactorily addressed. This will involve a review of the student’s case and current circumstances before their return and will be subject to satisfactory occupational health clearance or a letter stating that the student is ‘fit to study’ by their lead care professional if they are under a specialist NHS service. If the student has evidence to support an earlier return than the date stipulated by the Panel, this will be considered.

Student services senior wellbeing team will contact the student a couple of months prior to the students anticipated return date to check in with them and make any required referrals to occupational health or liaise with their NHS team to ascertain if the return can go ahead.

The students return may be subject to academic conditions for return such as the need to repeat some or all of the course of study and a Welfare Engagement Meeting on return to agree an Engagement Action Plan for continued support.

Whilst on a period of interruption students still have access to UEA student services and are encouraged to maintain engagement as is appropriate.  

Any interruption and return is subject to limitation set out in UEA regulations regarding length of study (length of course plus two years).


* Note: You will need a MyUEA account to access this.


You may seek independent advice on this process via the Students’ Union’s advice service, who are an impartial team of trained and experienced advisers. The service provides free and confidential advice and representation on a range of issues relating to student life, including all university procedures, housing, consumer and employment rights, money, and welfare issues. The students’ union is completely independent of the University, and therefore is without conflict of interest. You can find the contact details for the students’ union’s advice service on their website.