Fitness to Continue in Study
The Student Fitness to Continue in Study Policy is intended to support students in circumstances where their wellbeing or behaviour is impairing their ability to study and is at risk of adversely affecting those around them. The policy is also intended to help staff to identify and respond to students who are experiencing difficulties in an effective and coordinated manner, offering them the appropriate supports.
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The University has a duty of care to ensure that students are fit to continue to study during their time at UCD. A Fitness to Continue in Study concern may arise where a student’s health, behaviour, capacity or actions are impacting adversely on, or pose a risk to themselves or others.
A student may be unable to continue with their study where
- their health, behaviour or actions pose a risk to their own health, safety or wellbeing, or that of others.
- their health, behaviour or actions pose a risk of, or is adversely affecting the working, learning or living experiences of others or the day-to-day activities of the University or a placement provider.
- the support needs of the student fall outside the scope of the support which the University can provide.
Q1. WHO DOES THE FITNESS TO CONTINUE IN STUDY POLICY APPLY TO?
The Fitness to Continue in Study Policy applies to all registered students. It also applies to former students seeking to return to study whose registration has previously been discontinued under a fitness to continue in study process. Fitness to continue in study is not about your academic ability and progression. There are other procedures in place to deal with this. See Continuation and Readmission Policy.
Q2. WHO CAN RAISE FITNESS TO CONTINUE IN STUDY CONCERNS?
The members of staff who can raise concerns are module coordinators, principal supervisors, programme coordinators/directors or heads of schools/other academic units. Other staff such as student advisers or programme office staff may have been involved in supporting students prior to raising concerns under the Policy.
Q3. WILL FITNESS TO CONTINUE IN STUDY ISSUES BE TREATED AS STUDENT MISCONDUCT?
Some of types of behaviour that raise fitness to continue in study concerns may also constitute a breach of the UCD Student Code of Conduct. Alleged breaches of the Student Code of Conduct are normally reported and dealt with under the University’s Student Discipline Procedure. Where more than one procedure could be applied, the University will decide which of the procedures should take priority.
Q4. HOW WILL I KNOW IF FITNESS TO CONTINUE IN STUDY CONCERNS HAVE BEEN RAISED ABOUT ME?
You will be notified by your programme where there is concern about your fitness to study. You will be invited to meet to discuss how the matter can be resolved (under level 1 of the procedure). This may include consideration of a range of supports and agreement to a set of actions and timelines needed to successfully address the concerns raised. In some circumstances a recommendation for the student to take a leave of absence or consider withdrawal from the programme will be discussed.
The Fitness to Continue in Study Policy and Procedure provides details about the procedures that will be followed when concerns are raised. You should review these carefully to ensure that you understand what the programme will do and your responsibilities relating to the process. In circumstances where the issues raised cannot be addressed adequately you may not be able to continue with the programme.
Q5. WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF THE ISSUE IS NOT RESOLVED?
If concerns cannot be adequately resolved the matter may be referred to the Governing Board responsible for your programme. You will receive a communication to advise you that level 2 of the procedure has been initiated and you will be invited to a meeting to discuss the matter with a special sub-committee of the Governing Board. The subcommittee will review all of the information submitted to it, including any information you choose to submit in writing or in person. The sub-committee will then make a decision. The Governing Board can make any of the decisions outlined in 7.4.1 of the Fitness to Continue in Study Policy which includes the requirement for students to take a leave of absence, termination of registration or permanent exclusion from the programme.
Q6. WHEN WILL I BE NOTIFIED OF THE DECISION OF THE SUB-COMMITTEE?
You will be notified of the decision of the sub-committee within 5 working days of the meeting.
Q7. DO I HAVE TO ATTEND THE MEETING WITH THE SUB-COMMITTEE?
It is important that you attend this meeting, as the sub-committee wants to hear from you. It’s recommended that you ask someone to support you by accompanying you to the meeting. This can be your Student Adviser, an SU Sabbatical Officer or even a friend. If you do not engage with this process and do not attend the meeting, the sub-committee may decide to proceed in your absence.
Q8. CAN I APPEAL THE DECISION OF THE SUB-COMMITTEE?
Yes, you can appeal the decision of the sub-committee but appeals may only be made on specified grounds and evidence to support your appeal must be submitted. Grounds for appeal include:
- New evidence: Information directly relevant to the decision, which for good reason was not available to the Governing Board (subcommittee).
- Procedural Irregularity: There is evidence that the procedures relating to a decision were not followed properly, which may have impacted on the sub-committee’s decision.
- Disproportionate outcome: The outcome applied was disproportionately severe with regard to the circumstances of the case.
Appeals must be submitted within 10 working days from the date of issue of the decision. For more information please see Student Appeals Procedure.
Fitness to Continue in Study Policy and Procedure should be initiated in support of students whose health, behaviour, capacity or actions are impacting adversely on themselves or others. It should not be used to address unacceptable academic performance and/or progression. The Continuation and Readmission Policy and Procedure should be considered in such cases.
If students are registered to programmes with student fitness to practise requirements consideration may be given whether it is appropriate to raise concerns under the Student Fitness to Practise Policy and Procedure.
Each programme has a dedicated Student Adviser who can offer support, information and advice.
Access contact details and information on a range of student issues.
UCD Chaplains are available for support, guidance and advice.
The SU Sabbatical Officers are available to offer assistance and support to students.
Student Counselling Service is provided by professionally qualified psychologists and counsellors.