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Bristol respond to parents who said they were ‘disappointed’ by the university’s response to their son’s death

The student died at Bristol last month

Following an article in last week's Sunday Times, Bristol University have responded to claims that their handling of the death of a student last month was insensitive.

Second year Mathematician James Thomson, 20, was found dead on 25th October in what is believed to have been a suspected suicide. At the time, The Tab Bristol declined to name the student out of his respect to his friends and family. However his mother, Diana Thomson, has now come forward and given her first public interview following the death of her son.

She told The Sunday Times that she and her husband, Alastair, were "disappointed and concerned at Bristol’s processes for identifying and supporting vulnerable students — and their response to James’s death". Ms Thomson added that three weeks after her son’s death the university had still not sent a letter of condolence.

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The article as it appeared in The Sunday Times on Sunday

Ms Thomson further criticised the student accommodation her son had experienced whilst studying at Bristol. "I didn’t think a tower block with just a kitchen and five chairs to socialise in was very suitable for students" she told The Sunday Times . "The community room was a room with chairs and space. No bar, no TV. The student union was the other side of town. We were surprised at quite how much students seemed to be left on their own . . . James used YouTube if he didn’t understand something."

Responding to the claims made in the article, a University of Bristol spokesman told The Tab that "All at the University extend our deepest sympathy to James’ family. Our thoughts are with them at this sad time. We are very sorry to hear they are unhappy with the way we communicated with them following his tragic death."

The spokesman went on: "We have already invited James’ parents to meet with our Director of Student Services to discuss any issues or concerns, and we would be very happy to have that meeting if they still felt it helpful" and added that "a letter of condolence was sent from the Vice-Chancellor’s office in the weeks that followed James’ tragic death."

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Bristol have responded to the claims made by Ms Thomson

The death is believed to have been the sixth suicide at the university since September 2016, although an inquest is still yet to be held.

Although it is not yet known which accommodation Ms Thomson was referring to, her comments are especially pertinent as the university is currently undertaking a wide ranging student pastoral review within student residences, scheduled to conclude on December 11th.