ASK Quality Service Provision
Staff in ASK endeavour to provide a high quality advice service to all students. This is achieved through:
Working with the University:
Staff in ASK work closely with University Support Services and relevant academic departments. In particular, staff work with the International Student Adviser, Student Advisory and Counselling Service, Student Finance and Student Health.
Working with other agencies:
Staff are kept up to date with current issues for students through mail updates, training, and liaison with other agencies. Amongst these are Child Poverty Action Group, Citizens' Advice Bureaux, Money Advice Scotland, and Shelter.
Working with student volunteers:
Staff in ASK are committed to involving students in our work. We do this in a number of ways:
The Vice President Services works with staff in ASK on a number of areas. These include leading campaigns and publicity for the service, input on the day-to-day running of the office and working on individual student cases. ASK staff are involved in supporting the Nightline service and its volunteers. ASK staff use statistics about student concerns to provide input on events, campaigns and promotional materials, ensuring that these are appropriately focused and relevant to the student population.
Feedback from Students:
Students using ASK can complete an anonymous feedback form on their experiences of the service. Staff will highlight the feedback forms availability to students they are working with and forms are also available to any student, from the ASK office.
Complaints about ASK:
Students using ASK can make complaints regarding any aspect of the service. Complaints about staff should be made to the President for discussion with the Chief Executive. Complaints about a student volunteer should be made to the Vice President Services.
ASK keep statistics on all student enquiries to monitor the service provided by ASK, we record:
Mode of Enquiry – Telephone/Person/E-mail/Other
Gender – Male/Female/Unknown/Other
Nationality – Home/International/Unknown/Other
Designation – Undergraduate/Postgraduate/Unknown/Other
Category – Academic, finanace, personal etc etc
Time of Enquiry – hour of the day only
Referral – internal/external agency
Continuing case – Yes/No
ASK uses an electronic case recording system, that is hosted on a secure server and password protected. The system is able to record simple enquiries, or more detailed case files. When an adviser expects to be working with a student beyond their initial enquiry, a case file will be made for the student. On first meeting a student, Ask staff will record the date, the student's contact and course details. Most documents can be scanned into the electronic system, but where originals are required these will be stored in a paper file. All information recorded in the student's file or case record will be legible, concise, clear and impartial. In accordance with the Data Protection Act, students' files will be kept in a locked filing cabinet, to which only ASK staff have access. Student files will be labelled with a reference number. An index card with both the student's name and reference number will be kept in a locked cupboard separate from the student's file. Student files will be shredded after 6 years. For ease of reference to files a Student Case List will be kept beside the filing cabinet. This contains file reference numbers with the corresponding student's second initial and the name of the adviser they are working with. Students for whom case files are made will be informed, through the Confidentiality Statement, that they can access their paper file, and copies of their electronic file, at an appropriate time. Students will also be informed of any action to be taken on their case.
Referral and Signposting Procedure:
As providers of advice and support in a wide range of areas, ASK staff alone will not always be able to deal fully with all student enquiries.
As appropriate, ASK staff will refer students to other agencies both within and outwith the university. Where possible, a named contact will be given and, where appropriate and with the student's permission, an initial phone contact by ASK will be made. The list of referral agencies will be regularly reviewed and updated both for accuracy and relevance to current issues for students. Any concerns about referral agencies will be investigated.
In situations where a student's case involves aspects outside of ASK staff's areas of expertise, ASK will consult with appropriate specialists in external organisations both within and outwith the university. Students will be informed and asked to consent to any proposed consultation with a specialist. Should a student not consent to consultation with a specialist, ASK staff will consider other appropriate options. In consulting with specialists, ASK staff will maintain the student's anonymity, unless express permission has been given by the student to reveal their identity. The list of specialists in external organisations will be regularly reviewed and updated both for accuracy and relevance to current issues for students. Any concerns about specialists in external organisations will be investigated.
Referral to other agencies and specialists in external organisations will also be made in instances when ASK staff are unable to support a student due to a conflict of interest.
Conflict of Interest:
Staff in ASK will make colleagues and the Engagement & Support Manager aware of any conflict of interest in dealing with a student.
Conflict of interest in dealing with students may arise in two main ways:
1. In relation to students with which the member of staff has had previous contact outwith the ASK service. Such previous contact includes, although not exclusively, students who are the partner, ex-partner, spouse or close relative of the member of staff. As soon as a member of staff becomes aware that they have such a conflict of interest, they should inform the student immediately and refer to another member of staff or agency regarding the issue.
2. When two or more students are involved in a dispute:
a. Where two or more of the students are existing clients, ASK can advise neither / none of the students regarding the dispute:
Each student will be informed that they cannot be advised on the dispute, as the other student(s) are existing clients and that the other student(s) will be given the same information.
b. Where one student is a pre-existing client of ASK OR
c. Neither student is a pre-existing client, but one student approaches ASK.
Only the pre-existing or first student to make contact can be advised by ASK.
In both cases b. and c., the student will be informed that if the other student(s) involved in the dispute approach the advice centre, confidentiality will be broken and the other student(s) informed that the first student is a client and that they therefore cannot be advised by ASK. No other information about the first student will be revealed.
Where the student(s) involved in a dispute cannot be advised by ASK due to a conflict of interest, they will be:
Referred to another agency regarding the issue
Informed that they can be advised by ASK on any other issues.
Donations and Gifts:
Staff in ASK will make students aware that the service provided is free and that no donations are required. Should staff receive gifts from students, they should declare them to their Manager. In accordance with USSA policy, should the Manager decide that the gift is inappropriate, ASK staff may be required to return the gift to the donor with a note explaining USSA policy. Also in accordance with USSA policy, should the Manager decide that the gift value is minimal and is a genuine token of gratitude for a service carried out to a very high standard the member of staff will be allowed to retain the gift.