Code of Practice
Student Advice Service
Code of Practice
"Free, confidential, independent and non-directive advice, information and representation."
The Student Advice Service is provided by Cambridge University Students' Union (CUSU) and the Graduate Union (GU). Advice officers (both sabbaticals and staff) provide a professional support, advice, and information service to all students at Cambridge University, including former or prospective students if their situation relates to their times as a student at the University. This Code of Practice outlines what our core values are and how students can use the Service.
The Student Advice Service is offered free of charge to all students of Cambridge University. At no time will students have to pay for the information, assistance or representation they receive from the Service.
The Student Advice Service is a confidential service for all students. All information which students share with us will be treated as confidential within the service. Whilst an advice officer may share information about a case with other advice officers within the Student Advice Service, this information will not be shared with any third party outside the Service without the student's full, informed consent. All face-to-face meetings will be conducted in our private advice areas (if required), and we will try to ensure that no breaches of confidentiality can occur inadvertently. We will not confirm that any student has visited the Service or used the Service without the student's consent. Our full confidentiality policy can be found on our website.
The Student Advice Service provides non-directive support to all students. All decisions about the best way forward for a student will be made by the student themselves, not the advice officer. The role of the advice officer is to comprehensively explore all possible courses of action and potential consequences, to enable the student to make an informed decision for themselves.
Advice officers may, at the student's request, represent students at University or college meetings or hearings. Before these meetings take place, the advice officer will discuss and agree with the student what role they will play at this meeting (though the advice officer will still, in all cases, adhere to the core values of the Service).
The Student Advice Service provides impartial support to all students. All available options will be explored with the student – our support will not be prejudiced towards or against any viewpoint, and will not be limited by political, religious, cultural or any other form of bias.
The Student Advice Service provides independent support to all students. The information and advice we offer to students is not influenced by any outside body, including the University or any of the colleges. The support and assistance we provide is also independent of CUSU's and the GU's political and campaigning work on student issues, though advice officers may identify trends and issues to either organisation around which campaigns could be made.
The Student Advice Service provides non-judgemental support to all students. We will assist and advise all students, regardless of how their situation arose. We will not make judgements about any situation, nor any decision that the student makes.
The Student Advice Service will not provide information, support or assistance outside its field of competence. The Student Advice Service aims to provide a one-stop service, but will refer or signpost a student to a more qualified/experienced source of advice and information, when appropriate. For example, advice officers are not counsellors; if that is what a student requires, the University Counselling Service could be suggested to them as a more appropriate source of assistance.
Equality of Access
The Student Advice Service seeks to provide equality of access to all students. In line with our equal opportunities policy, we will not discriminate on (for example, but not limited to) the grounds of age, disability, gender identity, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation.
Contacting the Student Advice Service
Students may telephone, email, write to, or visit the Student Advice Service in person. The Advice Service is in two locations – the Graduate Union (17, Mill Lane) and at CUSU (Old Examinations Hall, Free School Lane). Contact details and availability times can be found on the Student Advice Service website at www.studentadvice.cam.ac.uk. We normally advise students to arrange appointments with us before dropping in, as we cannot always guarantee that an advice officer will be available, and we do not run drop-in sessions. Students can see advice officers Monday to Friday, between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm.
Advice officers will endeavour to reply to all enquiries within 1-2 working days of receiving them.
Advice officers will keep a record of events, advice offered and action taken. The student will also be asked to fill out a Casework Form. These details - along with the student's name, college, faculty, and other relevant information - will be kept in our confidential casework database.
Records will be treated confidentially, and will only be accessible to advice officers in the Student Advice Service, and the student (if the student requests access to them).
We will generate reports and statistics from all cases and enquiries the Student Advice Service receives – these statistics will be used in written reports on the work of the Service, and inform CUSU and the GU's campaigns. Individual students and cases will not be able to be identified from these reports.
If a student who has a dispute with another student approaches the Service, we will provide information, support and representation as normal, making it clear to the student that if the other party (or parties) visit the Student Advice Service, they will be entitled to the same level of service. However, confidentiality about either student's visit will not be broken.
In cases where two advice officers are representing opposing sides of a dispute, the normal Student Advice Service confidentiality policy will still apply. Advice officers will still be able to share information about each student within the Service (though, obviously, information about one student will not be shared with the other student). Given the sensitivity of this issue, it will be important to make sure that students involved in disputes with other students fully understand the confidentiality policy, and the non-judgemental, impartial service that the advice officers will provide.
Withdrawal of Service
Advice officers are expected to be supportive, professional and non-directive in all their dealings with students who come to the Student Advice Service, and every effort will be made to continue to support any student who comes to the Service. However, advice officers and the Student Advice Service will withdraw assistance from students who are being abusive, threatening or violent, or students using language or behaviour which is unacceptable.
The Student Advice Service team expects students to provide accurate and reliable information. If an advice officer believes that a student has misled them, or given conflicting information to more than one advice officer, the Student Advice Service reserves the right to withdraw its services for that particular case. Advice officers will not lie on behalf of students.
Feedback and Complaints
The Student Advice Service welcomes all feedback on the service we provide; you can give feedback to us by emailing the Welfare and Rights Officer.
Our aim is to provide a high standard of service to all students – if we fail to do this, we want to know about it. This enables us to resolve any specific problems, but also to learn for the future, and prevent it happening again. You can find details of our complaints procedure on the Student Advice Service's website.
This Code of Practice was created on 4th April 2011, and was reviewed in April 2012, by the Welfare and Rights Officer.
Welfare and Rights Officer 2011-12