Fitness to study


Going through the Fitness to Study process can be stressful, so we’ve simplified the University’s policy to make things a bit easier. The information below explains your rights and responsibilities, what to expect, and how you can be supported throughout the process.

You can view the full policy here.

What is Durham’s Fitness to Study Policy?

Fitness to Study is used in exceptional circumstances where the University is concerned about a student’s ability to engage in their studies or other University-related activities. These concerns usually must be ongoing and can be raised by you or your peers, your college, or your academic department.

These concerns may be about your:

  • Academic studies
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Relationship with your college community

How is a meeting called?

If a Fitness to Study meeting is called, you will always be notified by letter. In some cases, a staff member may verbally notify you before the formal letter is delivered. The letter will:

  • Address the concerns
  • Outline the possible meeting outcomes
  • State who will be attending the meeting
  • Address your right to be accompanied
  • List the date, time, and location of the meeting
  • Provide contact details
  • Request any necessary evidence (this might be medical evidence, letters, etc.)

You will then have at least seven days’ notice before a meeting, unless in severe circumstances where shorter notice may be given. You are not required to attend, but the University may still hold the meeting whether or not you are there.

What happens at the meeting?

The meeting is used to decide any necessary outcomes. The following people will attend the meeting:

  • A senior college representative
  • A representative from the student’s academic department
  • The Director of Wellbeing and Support
  • At least one senior representative from the Counselling Service and/or Disability Support

It may also include, as necessary:

  • A representative from the Academic Support Office
  • An external health practitioner who works with the student (dependent on you giving consent)
  • External stakeholders if necessary and subject to data protection legislation

What are the possible outcomes of the Fitness to Study meeting?

There are three possible outcomes:

  1. No further action will be taken
  2. The group will recommend further support arrangements, more evidence, and might formally monitor you for a period of time
  3. A grace period of up to five weeks, a concession to suspend studies, or a withdrawal from studies

Do I have a right to appeal?

You might not be satisfied with the outcome of the meeting. You can appeal any decisions reached by the Fitness to Study group if you believe University procedure was not followed or that not all of the relevant information was considered.

Any appeal must be in writing and given to the Director of Wellbeing within 14 days of the date of the decision made by the Fitness to Study meeting.

Your College Support Office or an advisor from the Students’ Union can provide assistance with making an appeal. If you would like assistance form the Students’ Union, please fill out our enquiry form found here.

How do I return to study?

The Fitness to Study policy also allows students to return to their studies after a concession or suspension under the policy. At the original Fitness to Study meeting, you will be informed of the necessary evidence or requirements needed to return to your studies.

Requirements to return to study will depend on the individual situation, but may include:

  • A personal statement
  • Evidence that supports the personal statement
  • Engagement in an assessment and support planning sessions with the University Mental Health Advisor

A summary report of these requirements will be provided to the Fitness to Study Group by the Mental Health Advisor.

The group reviews recommendations for Return to Study at least once a term, and in mid-September to make decisions on a student’s case.

You may appeal any Return to Study decisions by following the same procedure for appealing the Fitness to Study meeting (see above).

Going through the Fitness to Study process can be daunting, so we want to be sure to help you along the way. If you need further clarification on any of the above information, or for support through the process, you can get in touch with our Advice Service here.

Page last reviewed:08/04/2019