Fitness to study

Fitness to Study is the second level of the Support to Study process. It is designed to address and manage situations where there may be high or urgent risk. The process helps to understand the difficulties you are facing, reduce risk, and discuss support available.

Fitness to Study is the second level of the Support to Study process. It is designed to address and manage situations where there may be high or urgent risk. The process helps to understand the difficulties you are facing, reduce risk, and discuss support available.

The aim of the Support to Study process is to:

  • reduce risk
  • clarify your academic situation
  • discuss support available
  • help students to successfully continue their studies where it is safe and realistic for them to do so.

There may be occasions, however, where the outcome is temporary suspension or withdrawal from studies.

You may be referred to the second level of the process if:

  • you have already been referred for support through Support to Study, but this has not resolved the situation and risk has increased
  • your studies have been suspended and we need to assess if you are well enough to resume your course
  • high or urgent risk has been identified. You do not have to go through the initial level of the process first.

How a referral is made

The concerned staff will write a referral, with the issues that they think you are facing.

What happens next

You will be asked to arrange a meeting with an independent psychiatrist or occupational health therapist. This person will assess your mental or physical health (as appropriate) and write a report for the University. In their report, they make a recommendation to the University on your fitness to continue your studies. They will also suggest what support you may need to do so.

It is important that you arrange and attend this meeting as soon as possible. This will allow to process to continue and conclude in good time.

It is very important that you are open and honest throughout the process. This will allow your situation and any risks to be fully understood.

You should let us know if you cannot attend.

The University understands that some students go through very difficult times whilst studying. Wherever possible, we are willing to accept risk and support continuation of studies. However, this depends on this process being transparent, frank and collaborative. All parties must work together to address issues and reduce risk.

You will then be invited to attend a Panel meeting. This will usually be three weeks after you attended the assessment. You will receive a copy of the referral and the report in advance of this to enable you to prepare. You are welcome to provide other relevant information in advance of the meeting. This may include letters from services supporting you, or a personal statement.

In rare cases, the staff on the panel may decide that attending the meeting could have a strong negative impact on your wellbeing. In this case, you might not be invited.

The meeting

On the panel there will usually be:

  • two members of staff from your faculty, one of whom will usually be your senior tutor
  • one member of staff from the Student Wellbeing Service or Residential Life Service
  • a senior member of staff will chair the meeting
  • another member of staff will be there to take notes.

You have the option to bring a friend or family membe. Alternatively, you can come with someone from the Student Union's Academic Advice service.

The meeting will discuss the reasons for the referral and the content of the Report and the recommendation within it. You will be able to give your perspective. The panel will ask you questions in order to understand your situation. This allow you to understand your academic position and options.

The meeting will be friendly and supportive. Everybody there will treat you with respect.

Possible outcomes

Following the meeting with you, the Panel members will meet separately to come to a decision. This decision will cover whether:

  • you are fit to continue your studies
  • successful completion of your studies is a realistic expectation
  • attempting to do so would have a negative impact on your health.

The panel’s decision is strongly led by the Report’s recommendation. However, other factors will also be taken into account such as:

  • any changes to your situation
  • new information since then
  • consideration of impact on others.

There are three possible outcomes:

Continuing your studies

The first, which is most common, is that you are found fit to study and can continue your studies. This is usually on the basis that you engage with a support plan or other recommendations. You may be required to attend a following meeting to ensure that you are progressing with the actions agreed. This will help us judge if there has been improvement to your situation.

Suspending your studies

Less commonly, you may be asked to suspend your studies for a period of time. This should give you the time to recover from any health issue and/or address any circumstances that have been impacting the situation so that you can return to your studies in a stronger position. We will give you any conditions of that suspension in writing soon after the meeting.

Withdrawal from your studies

In very rare circumstances, you may be required to withdraw from your course. This will only happen if the panel decide that:

    1. there are no other options that will help you.
    2. Your academic position is irretrievable.
    3. Being at the University is putting your or someone else's health or life at risk.

If you are an international student living in the UK with a visa, suspension or withdrawal will have an impact on your visa. If this is the outcome, you should get advice from the Student Visa Service.

Appealing a decision made by a Fitness to Study panel

You can appeal any decision made by the Fitness to Study panel to suspend or withdraw you from your studies.

To do this you should write to the University Secretary at You must do this within 21 working days of the letter informing you of the suspension or withdrawal.

You should seek advice about any appeals from the Student Union's Academic Advice service.

Your appeal will be heard by a committee of the Board of Trustees.

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