Policy and procedures for the protection of students on UEA undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes who are under 18 years old at entry;
A very small proportion of the students admitted to courses at the University of East Anglia are under 18 years of age at the time of entry. Such students are minors in the eyes of the law and thus the University has an enhanced duty of care towards them until the date at which they attain their majority (their 18th birthday), even if this period is relatively brief.
This document has been written in order to:
define UEA policy in respect of admissions and welfare responsibilities for students who are under 18;
- outline those key legal responsibilities that the university has in respect of those whom the law defines as children;
- define the procedures that have been put into place to ensure that the University meets those responsibilities.
The policy of the University is to treat students who are under-18 years of age as much as possible in the same way that it treats all other students. Such students will be subject to the University’s normal rules and regulations and will be able to access the majority of the campus facilities and opportunities offered in the same way as all other students. However, the University will vary its normal procedures, or restrict access to some of its facilities and opportunities whenever it is deemed to be in the best interests of those who are minors, or when it is required to do so by the law. The University will also ensure that minors are provided with enhanced welfare arrangements, particularly when they are resident in University accommodation.
While the general principles of this policy will be adhered to in all cases of student minors, it may be necessary to make additional welfare arrangements for students who will be under 17 at the time of entry, particularly for those under 16, and/or to impose additional conditions of entry.
For applicants who are 16 or under, these will be considered individually by the Head of Admissions, the Student Support Service and the relevant Head of School after the offer has been made.
The University undertakes to ensure that those University staff members who have pastoral/adviser responsibilities for students under 18 are checked for their suitability to undertake such roles. It will also ensure that appropriate reporting arrangements are in place for University staff to contact the Designated Officer if they believe that any student covered by this policy is in any way at risk.
2. Legal framework
There are a number of particular and general pieces of legislation that have relevance for HEIs in respect of their responsibilities to students under 18 years of age. A brief summary of the implications of this legislation is provided below.
Those under 18 years of age are not able to enter into binding contractual relationships in all circumstances. The law is complex in this area but contracts for University fees, accommodation and Student Loans are likely to be enforceable for those under 18 as these are likely to be defined as ‘necessaries’. However, it is possible that some contracts may fall outside this definition (for example, agreements for loans from University Hardship Funds) and thus might not be enforceable.
Minors over 16 have the same rights under the Data Protection legislation as those over 18. This means that the University will not disclose any information about such students without their specific consent. However, if the student fails to pay any sums agreed on contract then it might be necessary to disclose this to any guarantor and possibly to a debt collection agency.
Section 16-19 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 provides a new criminal offence of absence of trust which relates to what might before have been perceived as consensual behaviour when it occurs within certain relationships of trust. Within the University context, such relationships of trust will include relationships between a student under 18 and a member of University staff such as an Adviser or lecturer, or a Senior Resident.
Sale of alcohol and other restricted goods and services
It is an offence for a person under 18 to purchase alcohol and for anyone to sell alcohol to such a person. It is also an offence to purchase alcohol on behalf of someone under 18, whether this is for consumption in licensed premises or publicly elsewhere. There are also age restrictions for a number of other goods including:
- Gas lighter refills
- Knives, blades and axes
- Some videos and DVDs
- Video and computer games
- Services, including entrance to venues in which films with an 18 certificate are being shown
An up-to-date list can be found on the PASS website (http://www.pass-scheme.org.uk/age-charts/).
Tier 4 (General) visa
Under the current guidance produced by the Home Office applicants can apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa to study in the UK if they are 16 years old or older. This would mean that if an international applicant is 15 or younger when studying, we would be unable to support their application to study.
If you are under 18 when you make your visa Tier 4 (General) student application, you must include a letter from your parent(s) or legal guardian(s) to show that they support your application. Their letter must confirm all of the following:
- their relationship to you
- that they consent to your application as a Tier 4 (General) student
- that they consent to your living arrangements in the UK
- that they consent to your independent travel to the UK
If one parent or legal guardian has legal custody or sole responsibility of you, the letter must confirm this and be signed by that parent or legal guardian. If not, then both parents or legal guardians must give their consent and the letter must be signed by both of them.
A copy of this letter must also be brought with you to your Registration event at UEA.
3. UEA procedures and responsibilities
The University of East Anglia will nominate a Designated Officer with responsibility for oversight of child protection issues within the University. The Officer will have responsibility for monitoring the effectiveness of this policy including ensuring that relevant equality impact assessments are undertaken.
The Admissions Service, within Admissions, Recruitment and Marketing (ARM) are responsible for seeking consent from a parent/guardian based in the UK and will ensure that no identified student minor is able to register for their course until the consent has been received. The process will follow as below:
1. The applicant will be contacted first, to provide contact details of their parent/guardian. They will be asked to complete an online form
2. Once this information has been gathered, the parent/guardian will then be contacted and asked to complete an online form to give consent
3. The contact details of the parent/guardian will be stored on the University student management system in accordance to the DPA
The University is not able to assist parents/guardians in finding a suitable guardian. A list of accredited agencies is available from The Association of Educational Guardians for International Students (AEGIS)
The Admissions Service will commence the process of contacting applicants in early May and will continue to do so until the start of the academic year or until we have received contact details of all those applicants who fall under the policy.
The Admissions Service will provide details of applicants expected to register with the University, which will be made accessible to the members of staff requiring this information for other purposes.
These may include:
- The Student Support Service
- The Head of School and Senior Adviser (for all Schools admitting minors)
- The UEA Accommodation Office (if applicants apply for University Accommodation)
- The Senior Resident Tutor
- The Head of the International Student Advisory Team (in respect of International/EU students)
- Academic Advisers
- Staff in the School and the Learning Teaching Service (LTS) involved in allocating an Academic Adviser
Details provided by the Admissions Service, of the applicants expected to register with the University, include; name, course applied for, fee status, date of birth and age on entry.
The Admissions Service will begin providing information of applicants under the age of 18 who are expected to register for the new academic cycle, in July of that year.
Arrivals & Orientation
The Student Support Service (STS) offers a Meet and Greet Service from Heathrow and Norwich airports on the University’s designated Arrival days. We strongly advise all student minors to use the airport pick up service, unless satisfactory alternative arrangements have been made and agreed by both the parents and STS. During the Arrival days, students are met at the University by a member of staff or student ambassador who records their safe arrival and helps to settle them into accommodation. The International Students Advisory Team will contact those students who are due to arrive outside of these dates to ensure that they receive the same level of support. A 3-day Orientation programme and welcome reception is organised for all new international students before the beginning of their first semester.
Student minors will be required to live in University accommodation unless the University has been informed that they will be living in the home of their parent, guardian or other adult formally approved by the parent or guardian. Student minors will normally be allocated a single room.
The UEA Accommodation Office will endeavour to ensure that those cleaning staff members who normally service the rooms of student minors have an enhanced DBS check to confirm their suitability to undertake this role.
Other enhanced welfare arrangements
The University will ensure that further enhanced welfare arrangements are put into place for all students up until their 18th birthday. These are outlined below.
Heads of School will ensure that student minors are allocated to an experienced Adviser (normally the Senior Adviser) who has had an enhanced DBS check to confirm his or her suitability to undertake this role.
The Adviser will meet with their student minors at the beginning of their course and then at least monthly in term time until they reach the age of 18.
Heads of School will ensure that any content, materials, resources and learning opportunities provided as a part of degree programmes taught in their School, and being attended by a student minor, are appropriate for such students, or that alternative arrangements have been made, or resources provided. Particular attention should be given to the implications for field trips and visits.
The Student Support Service will ensure that Senior Residents (SRs) are informed of the names of student minors in their parish. The SRs will notify the Student Support Service promptly if they have any concerns about the wellbeing of the students concerned. All SRs will be provided with a copy of this document and an opportunity to discuss its implications during their induction training.
The Student Support Service will ensure that student minors are fully briefed about the enhanced welfare arrangements that have been put in place for their protection, and reminded of the age restrictions that relate to the purchase of alcohol, certain videos/DVDs and computer games and other goods and services.
The Students’ Union will take all appropriate steps to ensure that it does not sell alcohol to a student under 18; this is particularly important in light of the fact that the University Campus Card does not give evidence of student age.
All UEA staff members have responsibility for contacting the Designated Officer if they have any concerns about the wellbeing or safety of student minors. The Designated Officer will take responsibility for ensuring that such concerns are investigated and any necessary action is taken, in accordance with relevant UEA procedures and following guidance on best practice from social services, the police and the NSPCC.
In certain circumstances, the University may be required to act on the student’s behalf. For example, dealings with the Police or medical emergencies, including mental health emergencies, might require the University to take action. The University will only take such action when the parents/guardian of the student cannot be contacted within the timescale necessitated by the particular situation.
For further information or comments about this policy please contact the Student Support Service (+44 (0)1603 592761; email firstname.lastname@example.org) or the Data and Systems Team within ARM on email@example.com.
Updated September 2016