The College council has approved a policy on Confidentiality in a Welfare Context that is intended both as a guide for Tutors and others in the welfare team and to make clear to students the College’s approach to matters of confidentiality in matters of student welfare.

The following fundamental baseline principle applies: College Tutors and Tutorial Office staff cannot promise to maintain absolute confidentiality because, if students or other individuals are in danger, further help may need to be sought. Nonetheless, confidentiality will normally be maintained within the College welfare team on a strictly need-‑to‑know basis and within the welfare team.

It is important to provide clarity concerning how a student’s confidential information might be treated depending upon who receives that information, and in what circumstances further disclosure might be appropriate. The College has developed its policy within the context of a commitment to the general principle of privacy and respect for confidentiality. It will retain data in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulations 2018. The policy should be read in conjunction with the College’s Data Protection Policy.

Given the potential complexity and sensitivity of individual student health and welfare matters, it should be noted that there is often no definitive ‘right’ answer in these cases. Judgment, discretion, justification and sometimes specialist advice may be required before an answer is arrived at, depending upon the circumstances. However, the policy enshrines guiding principles and considerations to which, in line with the Senior Tutors’ Committee’s agreed position, Selwyn College subscribes. 

Any member of College who has concerns over issues of confidentiality, for themselves or in relation to others, should not hesitate to seek advice from a Tutor, the Senior Tutor, the Bursar, or a member of the College welfare team. As a general principle in the overwhelming majority of cases it is considered best practice to seek the student’s consent to share information about them with another party before doing so, even where a breach of confidentiality without consent would be justified.