- YOUR UNION
WELFARE, ADVICE &
SPORTS CLUBS &
- B4 BAR
"Quality and Equality for All"
Our Charter aims to:
Updated September 2012
1 Free & Impartial
The Advice & Representation Centre (ARC) provides a free and impartial advice, assistance, representation and information service for Aston students.
2 Advice, Assistance, Information and Representation
The ARC aims to provide a wide ranging, high quality, advice and assistance service to students by giving advice and information which is both accurate and comprehensive. Staff will not make decisions for a student but will attempt to provide information and options to facilitate the student to make their own decision. Staff will not act on behalf of a student unless requested to do so by the student concerned.
Staff will represent students at University and other external hearings eg County Court, provided reasonable notice has been given to enable an adequate case to be presented. Students should be present at hearings. Staff cannot represent at Exam Board hearings in the absence of the student. Staff cannot represent at disciplinary hearings in the absence of the student, when a student is pleading not guilty. In exceptional circumstances, in certain types of disciplinary hearings, staff may be able to mitigate for a student who is pleading guilty and who is prevented from attending.
3 Contacting the Advice & Representation Centre
Students may telephone, e-mail, write to, fax or visit the ARC in person. The ARC aims to respond to all letters within 5 working days. The ARC aims to answer all telephone enquiries if not immediately then by returning the telephone call within 3 working days. E-mails should receive a reply within 3 working days provided the member of staff is at work to receive them.
The ARC aims to deal with initial enquiries from students in person on the day the enquiry is received. The ARC operates an appointments based system. To see a Welfare Adviser you need to book an appointment via ARC reception. We have two emergency appointments per adviser per day which can only be booked on that day: please call 0121 204 4848 at 10 am to book this appointment. The ARC aims to offer an appointment within 1 to 3 working days subject to the appropriate member of staff being at work.
4 Advice & Representation Centre Staff
The ARC aims to provide professional support at all times using the services of either the Union Chief Executive, a Welfare Adviser or the Vice-President of Education and Welfare. The ARC Receptionist provides information and makes appointments. ARC staff are encouraged to wear name badges and to identify themselves.
If you need help with immigration advice please contact The Hub on 0121 204 4007 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Unfortunately we can no longer deal with immigration issues.
5 Opening Times
The ARC aims to open its doors every weekday during term time between 10 am and 4 pm. The ARC aims to open for similar hours during vacation periods subject to staff availability, although the opening hours may occasionally be subject to pre-arranged variations.
A student approaching the ARC in person will be asked for a brief outline of their enquiry at the ARC Reception Desk. This enables the receptionist to direct the student to the most appropriate member of staff. A student who does not wish to mention the nature of their enquiry should be offered the opportunity to speak in private.
The ARC is committed to providing a confidential advice service to any user (client/student) of the service. Advice shall be given in a private office with sufficient comfortable space to accommodate the adviser and the client with the door closed.
No information regarding an advice service user shall be given directly or indirectly to any third party, who is not a member of the advice service staff, without the user’s consent.
If advice staff need to contact a client by phone or by post, they are responsible for confirming this is acceptable and no reference to the purpose of the telephone call may be made when making telephone contact via a third party.
In circumstances where a student is threatening to harm him/herself or others, the ARC reserves the right to disclose information without consent. If ARC staff suspect a child is being or is likely to be harmed, they are obliged to disclose this to the relevant authorities. Court Orders: Confidentiality may have to be broken when the ARC is ordered to do so by a court but the ARC would seek independent legal advice before so doing.
Users are asked to identify themselves in order that an electronic record may be made of their visit. Records are checked for accuracy and for content. Records allow for continuity if the student returns for further advice. Users not wishing to leave a name may be allocated the surname "Anonymous” and given a reference number. Records are used for statistical purposes, including the monitoring of demand for the service, but individuals will not be identified.
It is the responsibility of advice staff to ensure that computer records are not accessed by anyone other than advice staff (and the Welfare sabbatical officer) and to secure any paper information which relates to users.
Records are kept for 6 years before being destroyed.
Inter-student problems: See Section 8. The ARC reserves the right to disclose the initial contact with the first student or group in order to explain why advice may not be provided to the second party. The nature of the advice given will not be disclosed.
8 Conflict of Interest
When two or more students have contrary interests in a case, the ARC is not allowed to act for both sides as it would have knowledge of one side which could be used against the other. The ARC is obliged to represent the student(s) who approached them first. Should the other student(s) contact the ARC, the ARC may provide information (not advice or representation) and may offer a referral to another agency i.e. there is a reciprocal agreement with Birmingham City’s Students’ Union advice service.
9 Client and Staff Conduct and Time Keeping
Students are encouraged to keep to appointment times. ARC staff will wait for 10 minutes for a student with a pre-booked appointment. Staff will try to ensure they are ready to deal with appointments on time. Students are expected to keep staff informed of any developments that occur which may affect their case and staff will do likewise.
10 Withdrawal or refusal of ARC services
ARC staff cannot take on new cases for graduates more than 6 months after graduation. The ARC relies on the accuracy and reliability of information provided by students. Should a student be thought to have knowingly misled or lied to ARC staff, the ARC reserves the right to withdraw the offer of its services. The ARC may withdraw its services if, in the staff's professional opinion:
The ARC cannot actively assist a student if the student has already asked someone else, or another agency, to act on their behalf. However the ARC may clarify issues for the student which the student has discussed with the other person or agency.
The ARC will deal with enquiries to the best of its ability and knowledge. If advisers feel that a referral to another source of assistance might be more appropriate, then the student will be offered a referral. ARC staff reserve the right to refer the student to other members of the ARC staff team who are more experienced in an area of advice.
12 Data Protection
The data controller is the Chief Executive of the Union. Data about students is recorded electronically for reasons explained in section 7.
13 Equality of Access
The ARC actively promotes equal opportunities. Behaviour or language in contravention of the Union's Harassment Policy or Equal Opportunities Policy is not acceptable. However, students accused of such behaviour (if it has not occurred in the ARC) may ask for advice, assistance and representation.
14 Suggestions and Complaints
Students wishing to suggest how the service might be improved or students with a grievance concerning either an operational matter of the ARC, or the way their problem was handled, should write to the Chief Executive or The President of the Union. Chief Executive, Gary Moulder, can be contacted via email on email@example.com. Contact the Union President via email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Complainants should receive a written reply to their complaint within ten working days of it being received. Under the Education Act 1994, Code of Practice, Appendix 5, students may also choose to contact the University’s Chief Operating Officer, based in Main Building.