Handling Enquiries from Concerned Third Parties
If your job involves answering the phone at the University you may be asked about our students. This website offers help and advice to give you the confidence to deal professionally and positively with all calls - no matter how tricky. There are some kinds of call that - whatever your job is - you must take additional action on as they express a siginficant level of concern. Visit Handling Enquiries for more advice on when you should do something.
The first thing to remember is that all information about students is confidential even the fact that they are studying here. It is illegal to give any details about them, even if the caller says they are a student's parent, they are upset or angry and the call seems urgent. No member of staff should disclose information to a third party except for good, considered reasons.
What can you say?
You don't need to spout the Data Protection Act. Common sense should make you cautious about giving out personal details. The Act is there to make sure that personal information is handled fairly and securely. You also don't need to be obstructive, or to come over as a jobsworth. There are ways that you can help and you should always be supportive in your responses. If you are unable to give the caller the answer to their question explain why.
For example: "All information about our students is confidential so I cannot answer your question without the permission of the person it concerns."
But you don't need to leave it there. Equipped with the right information you can still help.
What you can do is: offer to pass a message on;
- Take the caller's name and either call them back or pass the details on to the relevant person/office
- Give the caller the number of someone else in the University who may be able to help
- Give general information about the University and its courses and services without giving anything away about an individual student
- Record the details of the conversation so that the enquiry can be tracked and a student in need of help can be supported.
If you regularly have to deal with questions about students and don't feel confident about answering them, you may want to take part in one of the University's new workshops.
Information for Students
Students can find out more about what we do to protect their personal information at:
Protecting students' personal information
Enquiries about students
There is further information available for people concerned about students and what we can do to help them at: