Confidentiality & Data Storage
Confidentiality and how we store your details:
At the Advice Hub we aim to provide a comprehensive advice and support service to students experiencing a wide range of difficulties. Due to the complexity of the issues we deal with, we keep case notes about some students. This means that, not only can we keep track of cases more effectively, but should the person who dealt with your initial enquiry be unavailable or ill; another member of staff should be able to follow up your case using the information in your file.
In order to maintain your confidentiality we invested in an online case recording system in 2011. This means that as much as possible everything about your enquiry or case will be stored online. This includes notes we take when we have contact with you, scans of documents you give us and any work we do with you, for example appeal forms. The online system is kept on a separate server and password-protected. No-one outside of the Advice Hub service can have access to your file and you can ask to look at the information in your file at an appropriate time.
The system is able to record simple enquiries, or more detailed case files. When an adviser expects to be working with a student beyond their initial enquiry, a case file will be made for the student. On first meeting a student, Advice Hub staff will ask you to fill in a form with your details, including a permission that we can access Pegasus to get your course details (this simply saves you writing them all out) and an optional demographics form which will be used when we set up your case file. If you contact us my email or phone we will add the details we have about you from what you have told us. All information recorded in the student's file or case record will be legible, concise, clear and impartial.
Most documents can be scanned into the electronic system, but where originals are required these will be stored in a paper file. In accordance with the Data Protection Act, students' files will be kept in a locked filing cabinet, to which only Advice Hub staff have access.
How long do we keep your file on record?
As this system was only introduced in 2011 there are some paper files still stored in the Advice Hub. These are destroyed by manual shredding after 6 years. This is both to comply with Data Protection regulations and because we may want to refer back to information about you should you come back to see us later on in your university career. We consider the usual university course to be 4 years, with a possibility of 1 year out, allowing 5 years in total. After 6 years, it is unlikely that any information we hold about you will be relevant.
Will you tell anyone what I say?
If you have asked us to contact someone about your situation, for example someone in your department, your local council or another university service then obviously we will tell those people what they need to know to benefit your situation. This will only be done with your consent and if there are things you would prefer us not to tell them this would be discussed before we contact them. Asking us to contact someone on your behalf can often be very useful and reduce the pressure on you to sort everything out on your own but we would only do this if you wanted us to.
Whilst working with one of our advisers you may talk about things which are very personal to you and we understand that you might be nervous about this. Be assured that what you tell us stays within The Advice Hub. The Advice Hub staff sometimes need speak to each other about cases so that we can help each other and support the work that we do for students. This means that sometimes we will discuss things students have told us but this is done to benefit that student’s situation not because we’re nosey or like to gossip. Your confidentially will be maintained with The Advice Hub team.
The only exception to this is if we feel that there is a serious risk to you or someone else if we do not inform an appropriate person. If we feel that you or someone else are at risk, we will make every effort to let you know that we are going to speak to someone about this and will ask for your agreement in passing information on, however, we will still tell an appropriate person even if you do not agree to this if we believe you or another person is in danger. We don’t take decisions like this lightly but we are obliged breach confidentiality in situations of this type.