Fitness to study

Fitness to Study is the second level of the Support to Study process, which is designed to help you to participate fully and satisfactorily in student life when health-related issues cause you problems.

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

  • you have already been referred for support through the first level, Support to Study, but need further help
  • your studies have been suspended and we need to assess if you are well enough to resume your course
  • your situation is serious enough that a senior member of staff felt that you should be referred directly to the second stage of the process. 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, identifying the issues that they think you are facing.

What happens next

There will be a panel meeting to discuss your support. You are invited to the meeting as well as staff from your faculty and the Student Wellbeing Service or Residential Life Service. There are usually about three or four members of staff at the meeting.

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

Depending on your circumstances, you might be invited to meet with an independent psychiatrist or occupational health therapist. They will be engaged by the University for this purpose and the University will pay their fee. This will be a supportive meeting where you can talk to a medical professional about your experiences. You should let us know if you cannot attend.

The psychiatrist will write a report for the panel giving their independent clinical perspective on your health and your ability to study and live independently. They will make recommendations about the support that you might need.

The meeting

We encourage you to attend if possible. You can bring a friend or companion, or come with someone from the Students' Union advice service, Just Ask.

If you do not feel able to come, you can write a statement explaining what you want to say. If you do not attend it will not count against you, but the meeting is likely to be more successful if you are there.

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

The staff will give you chance to discuss your situation and clarify what problems you have. They will ask you questions, make recommendations for support, and discuss what impact these could have.

You might want to share evidence with the panel from your doctor or any professionals who are supporting you.

Possible outcomes

The staff on the panel need to decide if you're able to continue or resume your studies, and what support or other actions you need to do so. There are three possible outcomes:

  1. You are allowed to continue your studies, usually on the condition that you engage with a support plan or other specific recommendations from the panel.
  2. You are required to suspend your studies for a period of time. This may be if you need time to be assessed by healthcare professionals. Any conditions of that suspension will be communicated to you in writing after the meeting
  3. You are 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 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 university-secretary@bristol.ac.uk within 15 working days of the letter that told you about the suspension or withdrawal.

You should seek advice about any appeals from the Student Union's Just Ask service.

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

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