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Updates & insights

Student death cases – two free practical resources for universities

It is extremely important for a higher education provider to respond effectively following a student death. A well-coordinated and supportive response is not just vital for people who might need support from the university - including the student's family, other students and staff; it is also key for managing a wide range of organisational risks - including the management of compliance-related and reputational risks.

We have two new free practical resources related to specific aspects of universities' management of student death cases.

A free 15-minute snippet of our training

The first is our latest Training Snippet, a free 15-minute video providing practical advice for anyone in a university tasked with making the first phone call to a family following a student death. Our work with HEIs tells us that, while there is general agreement on some key points - such as the fact that it should not be a university that first notifies a family about the death of their family member; this should be left to the police or hospital. However, when it comes to making a call to the family so soon after they have been told the news, we know this can feel like a daunting task. Our Training Snippet outlines what you should be seeking to do during this phone call, to ensure it lays the foundations for the right kind of supportive relationship with the family in the weeks ahead.

The accompanying Practical One-Pager can be downloaded below:

Primary objectives for first phone call with family following a student death - Practical
Download • 62KB

An accessible version is also available to download below:

Primary objectives for first phone call with family following a student death - Practical
Download • 54KB

We welcome your feedback on this free training snippet and accompanying one-pager. Our quick survey only takes a minute to complete.

If you have any questions or comments about the content in this Training Snippet, we would love to hear from you.

Our Training Snippets use material from our full training sessions; in this case, this material comes from our one-day course on Coordinating Actions and Providing Support Following a Student Death. The one-day course covers all of the key areas of university activity related to student death management - from writing an effective student death policy/procedure, through to supporting the family, delivering bad news to students, and delivering the right types of support to people at every stage of the process – from the initial few hours after a student's death through to the kinds of inquest or review that often follow on in the weeks or months after a death. You are welcome to contact us if you might be interested in us delivering this one-day course for your team or organisation or if you would like to find out more.

Our Policy Pitstop discussion event held on 6th September 2023 on the subject of serious incident reviews following a student death

The second resource is the output from a live Policy Pitstop event which we held to discuss, with around 50 colleagues from across the HE sector, the topic of serious incident reviews following a student death. We have seen new guidance from Universities UK – as well as recent talk of increased regulation – on how HEIs carry out serious incident reviews following a death. If we get our response to these issues right, we can enhance the way we support bereaved families, strengthen the way we learn lessons from student death cases, and help universities, following a student death, to deliver high-quality support to everyone involved. If we get this wrong, however, we risk adding to the distress felt by bereaved families and risk leaving our colleagues feeling more exposed than ever before when it comes to how their work with students is scrutinised during an incident review.

Following our event, we published two articles containing free resources for the sector:

You are very welcome to share information about these resources with your colleagues or via your networks.

Considering your next steps?

For colleagues who are looking for more support with managing aspects of a student death:


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