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Advice and Counselling Service

Information for staff

On this page we explain how we work with staff at Queen Mary to support students.


The Advice and Counselling Service works to a confidentiality policy.  This means that we are not normally able to tell anyone outside the Service whether we are working with a particular student or give you any information about them. 

If you would like to know whether a student is using our service or, whether they have taken up your suggestion to contact us, please ask them to let you know directly (if they are willing to). 

Sometimes, it can be useful for a student for us to speak to other staff at Queen Mary  about their situation.  We will discuss this with the student and if they are happy to give us their consent, we may contact you in relation to their case. 

If you are concerned that a student may be at immediate risk to themselves or others, or if you feel a student needs urgent assistance, please follow this guidance: Supporting students in urgent situations [PDF 623KB]

How to refer students to Advice and Counselling

In normal circumstances, it is best if you simply give students our contact details, so that they can contact us themselves. Please contact us for publicity materials that we can give you to hand out to students. Please use our webpages to inform students about the range of confidential services we offer, and our extensive online guidance and self-help resources.  

If you are worried about a student and they seem anxious about contacting us themselves, you may wish to phone us while the student is with you. Our frontline staff team will need to speak directly to the student themselves, but it can sometimes help if you make the initial call to us and then pass the phone over to them. Alternatively, some students may like you to walk over to the Advice and Counselling Service with them the first time. These options can be particularly useful if the student lacks the confidence, knowledge, or language skills to explain to us what help they need. 

Alternatively, you may wish to email or call us to let us know that you have referred a student to us and what your concerns are. We will not be able to tell you if the student does contact us, but we can note their name and our frontline staff team will look out for their contact. If you want to know the outcome, please ask the student to let you know.  

In circumstances where you let us know that you are particularly worried about a student’s mental health, we can contact the student to offer an appointment with one of our mental health or wellbeing advisers. However, we recommend that you seek the student’s consent to do this before you contact us.  

Please keep in mind that we can only work effectively with students if they are willing and open to seeking help and support. Please do not insist that students come and see us if they do not wish to, as we are not able to work with students who are not willing to engage with us. 

If you have any questions about how best to refer students to us, please contact us.  

Urgent situations

If you are concerned that a student may be at immediate risk to themselves or others, or if you feel a student needs urgent assistance, please consult the following: Supporting students in urgent situations [PDF 623KB] and also the academic advisor hub about students in crisis. We have a webpage for students on our website about help in a crisis.  

Immigration advice

Immigration Advice in the UK is regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner. (OISC). The Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 made it unlawful for anyone to provide unregulated immigration advice or immigration services. 

Advisers in the Advice and Counselling Service at Queen Mary are regulated to give immigration advice to students. We attend regular training and follow OISC guidelines on giving advice and keeping client records. We also must follow their code of conduct. It is really important that students get the right advice.  The consequences of giving wrong advice are extremely serious. Please refer students to us by asking them to complete our webform. 

Immigration advice and services includes: 

  • ensuring applicants complete the correct application form 
  • advising individuals on their immigration options 
  • advocacy (eg, contacting the UK Visas and Immigration on behalf of a student) 

Sign-posting is not considered advice.  You can show students guidance on our website, as long as you do not offer advice about this. For example, you cannot explain how the guidance relates to their individual situation. Staff can also produce letters for students regarding attendance and progress without breaking OISC rules as they are simply stating facts about a student's situation.

The impact of absences on Student immigration permission 
You may be discussing absences with a student. Absence can impact a Student visa and students need to understand the consequences. You can refer students to our guidance about changes to studies such as interrupting. The Immigration Compliance Team have outlined the process of when and how to inform them of absences, which includes a template letter, on theirWiki page.

Extenuating circumstances

Students who have attended an appointment with the Advice and Counselling Service can request a ‘Certificate of Attendance’.  This will simply state the date/s that they have attended an appointment with us.  Students must request the certificate themselves and can do so by contacting the Advice and Counselling Service reception staff.  

If we are, or have been, working with a student and feel that we can offer further information in order to help academic colleagues make decisions about Extenuating Circumstances etc, we will add this information to the Certificate of Attendance.The absence of any additional information on our Certificate of Attendance does not imply that there are no Extenuating Circumstances, it is simply that we have not worked with a student in a substantial enough way to include this information. 

If you feel that a student would benefit from our support services, please do refer them to us by giving them our contact information. However, if students are not a cause for serious concern, and do not seem particularly interested in accessing our services, please do not refer them to us simply for a certificate of attendance. We can only provide documentation for students who wish to engage with our support services. 

If a student tells you that they have a medical condition (including mental health), please advise them to contact their General Practitioner, NHS consultant or other medical professional for certification in the first instance. 

Resources for staff

The Advisor Hub contains a lot of resources to support advisors in their role, including information about support that you can refer students to within the University, and a link to the Effective Advising course.  

There is also a range of courses available on student support.  
Staff in the Advice and Counselling Service can provide advice and support to staff who are supporting students with mental health issues. Contact us ( / 020 7882 8717) for advice which may include:  

  • Ask to speak to a senior staff member about talking through a situation that has been difficult or worrying because of a student’s mental health 
  • Getting advice about how to approach a conversation with a student where there are worries about their mental health and wellbeing 
  • Getting advice about how to support a student where they might be having an acute mental health episode or are at risk of harm 

We can also offer discussion and support groups for staff to help you think through cases or difficult situations you are dealing with. Please contact us to request this. 

Staff wellbeing

Queen Mary staff can access free and confidential support through Workplace Options. Details are on the HR webpage.

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