Lecturers asked to snoop on Education students’ struggling finances
Staff claim nothing untoward has taken place
Edinburgh University staff have been ordering lecturers and tutors to reveal confidential information about students’ finances.
A list of around 250 students in the School of Education who had fallen behind in tuition fees payments was created and emailed to staff, where each student was given a so-called “customer code”, along with their course and date of birth.
Shockingly, tutors were asked to look into these students’ personal finance issues, jeopardising the pastoral care involved in the student-staff relationship.
The list included sport science, community education, education studies, physical education, sport and recreation management, and sports science medicine students.
Seen by the Herald, the intrusive emails said:
““We have been asked to gather information on the students listed in the attached document. Could you please search your tutee lists and identify if any of the listed students have particular money/debt issues that we should be aware of. We have been given a very short turnaround time on this and it would be most helpful if you could return your comments by Tuesday February 2.”
“To clarify, the request has come from the fees and finance office. We have received a list of students showing as owing monies to the university. “We have been required to clarify whether we know of any reason why these fees could not have been paid. This will prevent a reminder notice being issued.”
One academic source slammed the list to the Herald:
“The finance people have been chasing people for debt, they want data and the students on the list they gave were easily identifiable by the codes, dates of birth and programmes they are studying.
“We are supposed to give academic advice and our pastoral role involves directing students towards help or counselling if their financial situation was impacting on their studies.”
Imogen Wilson, EUSA vice president, said: “There’s clearly been a breakdown in communication and the university must make sure this never happens again.
“Students need to be confident they can approach their personal tutors for impartial support and advice, and they deserve to be able to continue their studies without being harassed about tuition fees.”
The university remained steadfast in its conviction that it had done nothing wrong.
An Edinburgh University spokesman said: “The email was sent with the intention of finding out how students could be better supported.
“There has been no breach of data protection law as no names were included and it was sent confidentially to specific members of staff in the School of Education. However, this is not normally how sensitive information is shared among staff and more robust guidelines are being put in place.”