NUS Totum

Advice Centre

Purpose and Principles

We aim to provide a professional advice service that is free, independent, non-judgmental, impartial, confidential and of a high standard. We aim to ensure that no student is adversely affected because of a lack of information about their rights and responsibilities.

We offer the service to all our members irrespective of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability or religious belief.

We act on behalf of and in the interests of our clients independently of the University and other agencies.

What We Do

We are like Citizens Advice or Law Centres in that we give quality advice on a wide range of subjects. We provide information, advice, support and representation. We take care to ensure our advice is accurate and comprehensive. We do not make decisions for our clients, but provide advice and information to allow them to make decisions for themselves.

Some of our main areas of advice are:

  • Academic advice: appeals, complaints, change of course and problems, temporary or permanent withdrawal, any University Committee proceedings (disciplinary, continuation of registration, cheating or plagiarism, fitness to practice, fitness to attend, fees and other monies owed to the University).
  • Housing advice: campus accommodation, university and private housing, landlord and tenant disputes, tenants’ rights, repairs and deposits.
  • Immigration signposting: please note that we cannot give advice on immigration issues, but are able to provide signposting to information regarding entry clearance, visas, extending or changing leave, family, employment and the new points-based immigration scheme.
  • Personal advice: health, sexuality, harassment, bullying and Hate Crime.
  • Consumer advice: faulty goods, utility bills, mobile phone and computer problems.
  • Employment advice: tax and national insurance, non-payment of wages, terms and conditions of employment.
  • We can take action on a client’s behalf such as negotiation or advocacy with the University or with outside agencies.
  • We can support and guide students at University hearings, such as appeal or discipline hearings, and sometimes at external hearings or tribunals.

This is not an exhaustive list of what we do, so if you are unsure where to get help or advice contact us and we will either be able to help you or signpost you to someone who can help you.

Please note that Counselling is not part of our service.

Who are our clients?
  • All students, full and part-time, undergraduate and postgraduate, who are registered at the University of Warwick.
  • Prospective students.
  • Former students for a reasonable time (usually up to one year) after graduation.
  • University and Students’ Union staff (advice only).
How We Deliver Our Service

Most of our enquiries are received by email, telephone or by clients visiting the SU Advice Centre. If we can answer an enquiry without making an appointment then we will do so - otherwise, we will offer appointments allowing us to allocate time to the individual. Appointments can be in person, by telephone or Skype.

What Clients Can Expect Of Us

If a client contacts us before 10am, we will do our best to give them an appointment with an advisor the same day. We aim to offer an appointment within 3 days. If the Advice Centre is not busy, we may be able to see clients without an appointment.

We will normally respond to a telephone call or email message within 24 hours. If a weekend or Bank Holiday intervenes, we will respond within 3 days.

Clients can expect to be treated with courtesy and respect. We will keep everything confidential unless the client explicitly gives us permission to contact another person.

What We Expect Of Clients

We expect clients to turn up for an appointment on time or to contact us in advance if they cannot come. With an ongoing problem, we expect clients to keep us informed of developments that affect their case.

We operate a policy of strict confidentiality. This means that we do not disclose anything that a client has told us except when they have given their express permission. The policy covers even the fact that a student has consulted us. Records are destroyed after 6 years.

The Welfare Officer, Education Officer and Postgraduate Officer are also included in our confidentiality policy.

In very rare cases, where there is reason to think that the student is likely to harm themselves or others, we may disclose information without the student's consent.

Conflicts of Interest

If there is a potential conflict of interest (for example, a dispute between two students who both approach us for assistance), we will allocate each client to a different advisor within the Advice Centre. These advisors will then refrain from discussing the case with each other, and will do their best to ensure that conflicting students do not attend the Advice Centre at the same time. If this situation is unworkable, we will make an appropriate referral. This could be to the Dean of Students or the University Wellbeing Support Services, or a local advice agency such as Citizens Advice.

We cannot give advice to landlords (including student landlords) who are in dispute with student tenants.

We cannot give advice to someone involved in a dispute with the Students' Union.

Any client wishing to make a complaint about our service should raise the matter initially with the Advisor concerned. If they are not satisfied, they should raise it with the Advice Centre Manager. The complaint will be investigated and we will try to put the matter right. If the client remains unsatisfied, they may take their complaint to the Chief Executive of the Students' Union.

Withdrawal of Service

We will withdraw service if a client uses or threatens violence towards us, if there is a breach of the Students' Union Equal Opportunities Policy, if there is a request for collusion with fraud or illegal activity, or for action outside our remit.

We can also withdraw service if it is apparent that everything possible has been done to help and nothing more can be reasonably done.

Measuring Results

We keep statistics detailing the number and nature of enquiries we receive. These statistics do not identify individual students, and the information gained is used to help improve the service.

Who We Work With

Students' Union

Within the SU, we liaise with the Welfare and Campaigns Officer, the Education Officer, the Postgraduate Officer, the Campaigns Co-ordinator, other Student Officers and members of staff as appropriate.

University

Within the University, the main places and people we work with are: Dean of Students, Faculty and Departmental Senior Tutors, University Wellbeing Support Services, Deputy Registrar, Academic Registrar, Complaints Department, Student Discipline, Warwick Accommodation, Student Finance and Student Funding, International Office, Personal Tutors and other members of Academic Staff, and the Health Centre.

However, we will engage with any University Department or Personnel that can help resolve a problem.

External

We also work with local landlords and estate agents, local authorities, government departments such as DWP, HMRC, other Universities and Colleges, Student Loans Company, Citizens Advice and many other agencies.

Organisations we are affiliated or registered with:

  • Financial Conduct Authority
  • Advice UK
  • NASMA (National Association of Student Money Advisers)
  • UKCISA (United Kingdom Council of International Students)
  • Coventry and Warwick District Foodbanks

Other organisations we work with or receive information from:

  • CPAG (Child poverty Action Group)
  • MIND
  • Shelter
  • Citizens Advice
Privacy Policy

When you come to the SU Advice Centre for advice and support, we will treat the information you give us carefully and not share it unless you give us express consent to do so (other than in limited circumstances where we are concerned about your safety or the safety of others - see below for more detail on this exception), and in accordance with GDPR.

What this means

We will get your permission in writing -

  • To hold personal information about you, otherwise we will record the information anonymously.
  • Before we share any of the information you have provided us with, unless it falls into the exception referred to below in the section headed: If we are concerned about your or someone else’s safety.

You may withdraw this consent for us to share personal information at any time. Once a withdrawal of consent is received, we will not share any further information after that date.

A delay in providing consent will affect how quickly we are able to start working on your case.

The information we ask for

We will only ask you for the information that is necessary to help you with your problem/enquiry, and this may include:

  • Your name, Warwick student ID and contact details, so that we can keep in touch with you about your case.
  • Personal information – for instance your academic progress, any personal issues you may have (e.g. with family or your health) if relevant.
  • Information about the services you are getting that are causing you problems – like property agents or departments of Warwick University.
  • If you do not want to give us certain information, you do not have to. For example, if you want to stay anonymous, we will only record information about your problem and make sure you are not identifiable.
How we use your information

The reason we ask for your information is usually to help you with your problem/enquiry. The only other reasons we would access your information would be for:

  • Training and quality purposes
  • To investigate complaints
  • To help us improve our services
  • To get feedback from you about our services.

All our staff have been given data protection training to ensure that they handle your information sensitively and securely.

How we use your anonymised data

We use some data and information to create statistics about the types of students we are helping and which problems/enquiries are most common. This data is always anonymised, so there is no risk of you being personally identified in any of this analysis.

This anonymised data may be shared with funders, regulators, Warwick University and government departments. We also use this data ourselves to inform policy research, campaigns and media work.

When we share your information with other organisations

We only share your information if you give us permission to do so, and we only share information with other organisations to help you with your problem/enquiry. For example, if you ask for our help regarding your accommodation contract with Warwick University, we might need to share your name, address and student ID.

Organisations that we share your information with must store and use your data in line with data protection law. We check their compliance with this before we share data with them.

Sharing information to help you with your problem / enquiry

If you ask us to act on your behalf, we might need to share some of your information with other organisations. We will always tell you when we do this. For example, if we contact your department, we might need to share your name, student ID and details of the problem/enquiry you have.

If we refer you to another organisation for more advice, we might share information about your problem/enquiry with them so they can help you more quickly.

If we’re concerned about your or someone else’s safety

If something you've told us makes us think you or someone you know might be at serious risk of harm, we could make a referral under the University of Warwick Referral Pathway - for example, if we think you might hurt yourself or someone else.

Warwick University Referral Pathway

How we store your information

We record information via email and attendance notes and other documents that are shared with us, and these are kept securely in a paper file or using a secure electronic case management system or secure email systems. We keep your information for seven years. If we contact you via Skype, SMS or WhatsApp, we make notes of the conversation and delete the data from the App.

Your Rights

The Students' Union Advice Centre tries to be as open as it can be in terms of giving people access to their personal information. Individuals can find out if we hold any personal information by making a ‘subject access request’ under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). If we do hold information about you, we will:

  • Give you a description of it;
  • Tell you why we are holding it;
  • Tell you who it could be disclosed to;  - and -
  • Let you have a copy of the information in an intelligible form.

To make a request to SUAC for any personal information we may hold, you need to put the request in writing, addressing it to the address provided below.

If you agree, we will try to deal with your request informally - for example, by providing you with the specific information you need over the telephone, subject to verification of identity.

If you think any information that we hold is incorrect, we will correct it.

If you wish to exercise your right to have your data removed, we will comply so long as there is no legal or legitimate reason that requires us to keep it.

About this Notice

This privacy notice was drafted with clarity in mind. It does not provide exhaustive detail of all aspects of SUAC’s collection and use of personal information. However, we are happy to provide any additional information or explanation needed. Any requests for this should be sent to the address below:

Chief Executive’s Office
Warwick Students’ Union
Gibbet Hill Road
Coventry
CV4 7AL

Email: dataprotection@warwicksu.com

Call: 02476 572777

Advice Centre