Student and Registry Services



Guidance on safeguarding students

Safeguarding is the duty to promote the welfare of our students and to protect them from harm. This includes all forms of harm, including those covered by the Prevent Duty.

Safeguarding our students encompasses protecting the individual at risk of harm as well as the wider student community.

The sections below cover

In addition to the guidance provided by UCL, the ACT Early website provides advice, resources and support from UK Counter Terrorism Police including:

Safeguarding in person 

UCL has a duty to ensure that students are safe and not at risk of harm on our campuses. Seeing our students face to face allows us to recognise changes in behaviour which may indicate where a student needs support.

There are many different factors which could lead to a feeling of something not being quite right over a short or longer period of time. When thinking about changes in behaviour, it is important to consider this in the context of the individual student. Where appropriate, staff may wish to discuss their concerns with colleagues. It is important to use professional judgement and remember that where you have concerns, these can be shared using the Student of Concern process discussed below.

Safeguarding against online harm

Online learning and distance learning offer exciting opportunities to continue providing a high standard of teaching and interaction with our students when they are not on campus. UCL has a duty to ensure that our students are safe and not at risk of harm when they are working online. You may want to check in with students more regularly online than you perhaps might face to face. This is good practice to help students to continue to feel supported and part of the UCL community. All staff should remain mindful of their safeguarding duties and of where they and their students can find support.

Illegal and inappropriate content is widespread online, and students may access this type of content. This may be due to a lack of security on devices used at home. For more advice and tools to help students and staff stay secure online, please visit ISD’s Stay Secure webpages or email isg@ucl.ac.uk . 

Legal forms of online behaviours and content can also cause serious harm. The internet can be used to harass, bully or intimidate, especially people in vulnerable groups. All staff and students should be encouraged to use Report + Support, if they feel that they are being harassed, bullied or intimidated whether this be on an online platform or on campus.  

As staff and students interact online and at distance, it is crucial that the welfare, wellbeing and safety of our students is maintained. 

How can we support our students? 

If you become concerned about a student’s behaviour, wellbeing or safety, you can use the Student of Concern process to raise those concerns. The Student of Concern form will then be reviewed by the Student Support and Wellbeing team and appropriate action will be taken.   

The Student Support and Wellbeing team offer a range of confidential services and support for all of our students. There are plenty of resources and advice on their website which it can be useful to signpost students towards either if they come to you with a concern or to ensure that they know where to find support in case they encounter an issue whilst studying at distance or online.  

Behaviours and Vulnerability Factors  

During regular interactions with our students, you may notice behaviours or vulnerabilities which could be a cause for concern. The below list of behaviours and vulnerabilities may be more apparent in an in-person situation (but could happen online too) and should always be considered holistically together with the context and situation of the student.

If we are not seeing our students face to face on a regular basis, it can be more difficult to ascertain whether they are interacting with UCL and their studies in the usual manner or whether they may be in a situation that is a cause for concern. However, it is important that we maintain an awareness and understanding of some of the behaviours and vulnerabilities that may indicate a concerning situation.  

These behaviours and vulnerability factors are summarised below. However, please bear in mind that this is not an exhaustive list and it may be unlikely that one of these on their own would be a cause for concern. It is likely that you would start to build up a picture of your concerns through a selection of the behaviours or vulnerabilities below, in relation to the relevant context and situation of a particular student. It is important to use professional judgement and appropriate understanding of each student.  


  1. Using angry or argumentative language in interactions  

  1. Acting in a difficult or uncooperative manner either in group discussions, team projects or one to one meetings  

  1. Asking inappropriate questions to peers or staff 

  1. A lack of engagement, such as not logging into online teaching, not responding to correspondence, not participating in online discussions or not submitting work

  1. A sudden change in their typical behaviour  

  1. Becoming more active on social media and perhaps sharing inappropriate or controversial content 

  1. Showing an interest in conspiracy theories and sharing them with their peers  

  1. Unusual interaction with their peers such as being rude, inappropriate, over familiar or not contacting those who they would normally speak to on a regular basis  

Vulnerability Factors 

  1. Becoming isolated from their friends and family 

  1. Lacking a sense of community or belonging  

  1. Spending more time on social media and online groups  

  1. Feeling under threat  

  1. Seeking a sense of understanding or acknowledgement  

The above behaviours and vulnerability factors may indicate or lead to many different wellbeing, welfare or safety issues. However, they can also be an indication of concerns that may be related to our Prevent duty.  

Acting on Concerns  

If you notice any or a combination of the above behaviours or vulnerabilities, it is important to check in with someone about your concerns. This could be catching up with the student to find out more or speaking with a colleague about your concerns. Professional judgement and appropriate consideration should be taken when deciding who is best to speak to.  

If after checking, you still feel that there is a genuine cause for concern, it is important to share those concerns. This should be done through the Student of Concern process.  

Case Studies

Case Study 1

A personal tutor notices that a student is not engaging regularly with online teaching, has not responded to correspondence over a prolonged period, students close to them have reported that they have not heard from them and when they have participated their interaction has been abrupt or uncooperative.  

What action should be taken?  

Firstly, it may be appropriate for the personal tutor to check in with the student, ask them generally about how they are and whether there is any support that they need. Alternatively or additionally, the personal tutor may want to ask other teaching staff from the student’s course if they have noticed similar behaviour or have any further information.  

After initial conversations with the student and colleagues, it becomes clear that the student is struggling to maintain engagement with their course online due to increased caring duties at home, as well as struggling with anxiety.  

The personal tutor is able to signpost the student to relevant support services from Student Support and Wellbeing.  

If there are continued concerns, the personal tutor may feel it is still appropriate to complete the Student of Concern form. This can then be followed up by the Student Support and Wellbeing team.  

Case Study 2

A student who attends classes and usually engages with the material suddenly becomes withdrawn and uncooperative. The student has missed a number of in person lectures and tutorials. 

Following an informal dicussion with the student, it becomes clear that the student has suffered a recent bereavement. The staff member advises the student of the support they can access from UCL's Student Support and Wellbeing team.

If there are continued concerns, the personal tutor may feel it is still appropriate to complete the Student of Concern form. This can then be followed up by the Student Support and Wellbeing team.