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Student Death Procedure


1 - Purpose

1. In the tragic event of the death of Newcastle University student, it is important that certain people within the University are informed about the death as soon as possible, so that necessary procedures may be implemented.

2. News of a student's death can be received through a variety of channels and by any member of the University's staff or student body.

3. This document is designed to let you know whom you should contact if you receive news of a student's death and provide a framework of needed actions. It is difficult to describe a procedure that will fit every situation since circumstances may vary as such the information provided in this document is to be used as a guide and is not meant to be prescriptive. For example, responding to a situation where a student is believed have died by suicide, will require different actions to responding when a student has died following an illness.

4. The overall aim of this document is to identify procedures that will enable the University to respond in a sensitive and appropriate manner. The specific objectives are:

4.1. To ensure a compassionate approach that recognises the distress for those affected by the death of a student
4.2. To identify clear lines of responsibility which support the valuable contributions of various University staff and students in response to a student’s death
4.3. To prevent duplication of action and avoidable distress

2 - Discovery of a death on campus premises (including accommodation)

1. The location in which the death of a student occurs will impact on the actions of the University and its staff members. Certain actions must be carried out on first discovery or notification of any death (this would include the death of a family member or guest on campus). If a person on campus dies the Police should always be notified:

2. The person(s) discovering the body must:

2.1. Call 999 who will give advice on immediate next steps and confirm the death.
2.2. Ring 86666 or 0191 208 6666 – the campus security number.

3. Campus Security will:

3.1. Inform the Director of Student Health and Wellbeing or their designate and if the student's body is found in University accommodation, the Accommodation Duty Manager. (see Appendix 1)
3.2. Ensure that emergency service can gain entry to the necessary locations.
3.3. Set up a perimeter where necessary to ensure distress is minimised

4. In cases where the body is found in student accommodation The Duty Manager (Accommodation and Hospitality Services) will:

4.1. In liaison with security to ensure emergency services can gain entry to the premises.
4.2. In liaison with Security, assist the Police with the student’s details such as name, age, home address, next of kin etc. All information requested by the police must be provided.
4.3. Confirm with the Police they will be making contact with the next of kin and ask that the Director of Student Health and Wellbeing be informed as soon as this is do so they are able to reach out to the student's family to provide ongoing support.
4.4. Check on timescales for the removal of the body.
4.5. Offer assistance, e.g. office space, telephone access, as required
4.6. Establish who else is resident in the flat/corridor and, if possible, establish their whereabouts.
4.7. In liaison with Student Health and Wellbeing, ensure all residents in the vicinity are kept informed of the situation whilst bearing in mind confidentiality e.g. only giving basic information, not disclosing or confirming the identity of the student.
4.8. Offer other residents in a shared flat re-housing if required/desired e.g. if the Police require possession of the flat/room to aide any investigation.
4.9. If the deceased is a family member or guest of a student provide assistance as required in liaison with the Director of Student Heath Wellbeing.
4.10. Colleagues and students to be made aware that they should not comment to press and refrain from commenting on social media to ensure the students loved ones only learn the news of the death via the appropriate channels. Enquiries from the press should be referred through to the Press Office.

3 - Who needs to be contacted?

1. During office hours, if you receive news of a student's death from any source you should contact the Student Wellbeing Service (Ext 83333), unless you know that someone else has already made contact with them.

2. You should provide as much detail as you can about the deceased student. It may be that staff in the Student Wellbeing Service are already aware of the death from other sources, but please do not assume that this will be the case and always call.

Please remember that contact must not be made with the next of kin

4 - The coordinating team and their roles

1. A virtual coordinating team, led by the Director of Student Wellbeing (or their designate), made up of the Head of the School and/or Service in which the student was based and the Director of Corporate Affairs (or their deputies), will be established to respond to the incident.

2. Normally the Director of Student Wellbeing Services (or their designate) will act as Single Point of Contact for the student’s family and may choose to involve the University Chaplain(s) in this role to a greater or lesser degree, depending upon the circumstances. Loyola University should be contacted to allow them to contact the next of kin of a Loyola student.

3. The coordinating team will ensure that:

3.1. Appropriate people in the University and externally are informed of the event and are updated as appropriate.
3.2. All legal and other statutory requirements surrounding the death are observed.
3.3. Appropriate people are consulted and involved.
3.4. All concerned have confidence that the University is acting in a responsible, compassionate and sensitive manner.
3.5. No routine administrative procedure is continued which may cause additional distress to students loved ones.
3.6. Follow-up enquiries, internal or external, are channeled appropriately.

4. The Director of the Student Health and Wellbeing Services will be solely responsible for issuing any official notification, statements or updates about the student’s death to individuals or services listed as second tier contacts (below). The coordinating team will advise any second tier contacts on the content of any information that they may need to issue to others.

5. The Head of the Deceased Student's School (or their designate) will:

5.1. Inform all relevant colleagues in the School of the students death, first contacting the student's personal tutor, senior tutor and if applicable the students supervisor and Degree Programme Director. The Faculty PVC and Director of Faculty Operations should also be informed.
5.2. Decide, in consultation with appropriate staff, which if any students need to be informed of the death in person and make arrangements for doing so.
5.3. Via the Director of the Student Health and Wellbeing Services deal with any requests from the family of the deceased student to talk to particular staff or to see the students work or where they studied.
5.4. With guidance and support from the Head of Student Health and Wellbeing (or their designate) ensure that students and colleagues in the School are aware of the current support available to them.
5.5. Ensure that School records are amended accordingly.
5.6. Via the Director of the Student Health and Wellbeing Services ascertain from the student’s family details of the funeral arrangements and ensures that the University is represented (in accordance with the family’s wishes). This representation should (where possible) be a senior member of the school and may also include a member of the Senior Management Team. A member of the Chaplaincy may also wish to attend at the request of the school to provide support to Colleagues in attendance.
5.7. Inform appropriate staff in the relevant Faculty Office of the incident.
5.8. Consider (in consultation with relevant Faculty colleagues and the Examinations and Awards Team) the option of awarding the deceased student a posthumous qualification and inform the Director of the Student Health and Wellbeing Services, so they may keep the students family informed.
5.9. On the advice of the deceased student's tutor, inform the Head of any other School in which the deceased student had been studying.

5.10. The Heads of other Schools concerned will have the same responsibilities as outlined above except that they will not need to contact the student's tutor and Degree Programme Director.

6. The Director of Student Wellbeing Services (or their designate) will:

6.1. One of the most immediate actions will be to update to the student records, this is essential so that no communication is sent out to the student’s correspondence addresses e.g., about debt, library books etc. which may cause further distress to a student's loved ones.
6.2. Be the key contact person for the student’s family. Advise the deceased student's family of the contact details of any staff (e.g. tutor, Residence Manager) with whom they might wish to make contact.
6.3. Ensure that all second tier contacts (listed below) are informed of the circumstances as soon as possible.
6.4. Contact the Head of School to reiterate what support can be offered to both staff and students.
6.5. Write a letter of condolence to the deceased student's family (to be signed by the Registrar or Vice-Chancellor).
6.6. In liaison with the student's Head of School, obtain details of the funeral arrangements and ensure that the University is appropriately represented at the funeral (see previous section for further details).
6.7. Where deemed appropriate arrange a debrief session at an appropriate time after the incident with all those directly involved, to ensure that all issues have been dealt with and to consider any matters arising as a result of the particular incident which may inform future amendments to the procedure.
6.8. Contact the insurance team within the University Finance Office to ensure that the School and family are fully aware of any insurance cover available.
6.9. Liaise with Public Health England if the death gives rise to any public health concern.

7. The Director of Communications (or his/her nominee) will:

7.1. Liaise with the police press office to confirm the level of detail that is in the public domain
7.2. Prepare a statement for release to the media on request (in consultation with the coordinating team).
7.3. Deal with any queries from the media about the deceased student and his/her death in consultation with the other members of the coordinating team and the student’s family.
7.4. Ensure that copies of any press releases about the incident are forwarded to the other members of the coordinating team and police for approval.
7.5. Monitor any social media channels to check whether any inappropriate/misleading information is being posted. This will be directed to the police press office to deal with and to issue any clarification if necessary. Furthermore, any communication posted on social media channels that could provide information to any on-going police inquiry will be forwarded to the police press office.
7.6. Notify the Student Progress Team of any inappropriate/misleading information being posted by Newcastle University students so that they can take any action necessary.

8. Second Tier contacts and their roles

The representative for the Student Health and Wellbeing Service will as soon as possible inform the following, providing as much detail as is appropriate in each case:

8.1. The International Recruitment Officer from the International Office will be consulted as appropriate, in cases involving non-British students (EU or International student)
8.2. Members of the senior management team, including the Vice Chancellor, Registrar, Academic Registrar and PVC Learning and Teaching
8.3. University Chaplaincy
8.4. Student Data to update SLM
8.5. International Mobility Manager (included for Study Abroad or Exchange students, Sponsored international students, or Home students who were studying abroad)
8.6. NUIT Service Desk
8.7. Rec-man
8.8. Student Life Team
8.9. Finance and Planning (including Insurance Officer and Tuition Fees Manager)
8.10. The Occupational Health and Safety Service
8.11. Accommodation Office
8.12. Loyola Center Manager (included if the student is a Loyola students)
8.13. University Librarian
8.14. NU Advancement
8.15. The President of the Students' Union
8.16. Students’ Union - Chief Executive and Director Membership and Demographic Services

The responsibilities of the second tier contacts listed in Section 3 are outlined below.

a) The Student Health Wellbeing service will:

  • Through the Heads of Schools in which the deceased student studied, offer support to students who knew the deceased.
  • Through the coordinating team, offer therapy as appropriate, to house/flat mates of the deceased student, where these can be identified and it is deemed necessary.
  • Provide support for any individual or group of students who request it.
  • Provide details on request of external bereavement counselling services.
  • Provide a link to the student’s family including arrangements for visiting the University.
  • Issue a 'Notice of Withdrawal' to appropriate sections within the University, indicating the reason for withdrawal Student Data (SPS)

b) The Student Progress Service will:

  • Where appropriate, inform the Student Finance England or other bodies such as Research Councils of the death.
  • Amend accordingly the deceased student's records held within the Student Progress Service.
  • Notify the Home Office with regard to the Sponsor Management System if the student was in receipt of a Visa (Student Data Officer).

c) The Finance and Planning Office will:

  • Halt all finance-related correspondence to the student, e.g. fee invoices.
  • Reimburse any outstanding finance to the family, if appropriate.

d) The University Insurance Officer will:

  • Liaise with the Head of Student Wellbeing to pursue any relevant University insurance actions and ensure that the School and family are fully aware of any insurance cover available.

e) The Occupational Health and Safety Service will:

  • Liaise with the Health and Safety Executive, if necessary.
  • Support the University in any accident investigation.
  • Liaise with appropriate Head of School/Line manager of the staff who has been involved/affected by the student death, extending advice/support on the immediate and long term actions required.
  • Organise where deemed necessary independent counselling support for staff.

h) The Accommodation Office will:

  • Ensure that appropriate site staff liaise with the police when required. This is likely to be the Residence Manager or Duty Manager out of hours.
  • Ensure that an appropriate member of staff is available when required to provide the deceased student's family with access to the student's room to collect belongings.
  • Ensure that accommodation is available for the deceased student's family if required.
  • Halt all accommodation-related correspondence to the student or the family, e.g. rent invoices.
  • Identify and offer re-housing to other residents where appropriate.
  • Assist the Student Wellbeing Service in identifying students in the deceased student's residence to whom the offer of support may be made.
  • Inform the property’s landlord of the incident (if the student was living in private rented accommodation)

j) The Student Mobility and Integration Team will:

  • Act as a consultant to the coordinating team. Advising them, as required, and contacting if requested
  • The members of the deceased student's immediate family.
  • The relevant Embassy or High Commission in London.
  • The deceased student's sponsor or employer.
  • The relevant British Council office.

Where a UK student has died whilst studying abroad, the Student Mobility and Integration Team will inform the host institution and liaise with relevant individuals at the host institution.

  • Liaise with the Student Wellbeing Service and the host institution to look at what support can be provided to other home students who may be affected by the incident whilst overseas.
  • Inform and liaise with Foreign and Commonwealth Office (or relevant Embassy in UK if EU national).

The Loyola Center will:

  • Contact Loyola University Maryland to inform them of the death.
  • Act as the main point of contact between Loyola and Newcastle Universities
  • Liaise with Student Wellbeing to meet with all the Loyola students
  • Provide support for any individual or group of students who request it.

k) The University Librarian will:

  • Halt all Library-related correspondence to the student.

l) NU Advancement will:

  • Via the Head of School, advise the deceased student’s family of the options, if they wish to donate or establish a legacy.
  • Remove the student’s name from any contact lists that they may have.

m) The Chief Executive of the Students' Union will:

  • Inform the Welfare and Equality sabbatical officer and the Student Advice Centre of the death
  • Establish if the deceased student was a member of a Students’ Union Club or Society and, in the event that he/she was, ensure that appropriate steps are taken to inform other members.
  • Liaise with University services as appropriate when students approach the Students' Union for support or advice.

n) NUIT Service Desk will:

  • Ensure that the expiry date for the deceased’s IT account is extended for 2 years to allow for retrieval of information required as part of a Coroner’s inquiry

Other campuses:

If there is a death of a student at our Singapore campuses the Dean of Newcastle University in Singapore will lead the coordination of the response in line with the operational framework.

If there is a death of a student at our Malaysia campus the Academic Dean will lead the response using this document as a basis for that response but amending according to local circumstances.

If there is a death of a student at our London campus then the Chief Operating Officer will lead the response using this document as a basis for that response but amending according to local circumstances.

Postvention support

Following the death of a student by suicide, postvention support is important to ensure that students who are bereaved or affected by the death are supported and that the risk of social contagion is reduced.

The Student Health and Wellbeing Service will provide the following:

  • Immediate support to students impacted by the death as described above.
  • A named contact person at Student Health and Wellbeing Services for students who are directly impacted by the death.
  • Contact with students who are directly impacted by a student’s death from suicide on the anniversary of their death and other key dates i.e. birthdays, coroners inquests.

It is important to acknowledge that staff are also likely to be impacted by the death of a student. We recognise that this can be distressing and we wish staff to be fully supported. Staff can access 24 hour support via 0800 030 5182 or Employee Assistance Programme.

Key contact details

DepartmentNamed contactContact details
Student Health and Wellbeing Service Director of Student Health and Wellbeing 85870
Counselling and Mental Health Team Team Manager 83179
Student Academic Services Academic Registrar 86089
Director of Corporate Affairs Executive Director of Corporate Affairs 85893
  Senior Communications Manager 85108
Security Emergency number 86666
  Routine contact number 86817
Student Progress Service Student Progress Assistant 85293
Student Engagement Team Student Engagement Team Leader
Student Communication and Engagement Manager
University Chaplaincy Lead Chaplain 86341
Accommodation Services Director of Accommodation Services 85171
  Assistant Head of Accommodation 81935
Finance Office Income Section Manager 86516 
  Team Leader (Tuition Fees) 85009 
Student Mobility and Integration Senior International Mobility Manager 88275 
Loyola Center Loyola Study Abroad Centre Manager 07807134328 / 87522 
International Office Senior Recruitment & Admissions Assistant 88667 
The Library Director of Academic Services
University Librarian
  Office Manager 87674 
Students' Union Students' Union Chief Executive 0191 239 3908 
  Students' Union Director of Membership and HR 0191 239 3918 
Human Resources Human Resources Adviser 85600 
  Senior HR Assistant 88773 
Student Financial Support Team Manager 83599 
Insurance Insurance Officer 86520 
  Assistant Insurance Officer 83913 
Occupational Health and Safety Service Office Administrator and PA 86274 
Safety Service Secretary 87344 
  Practice Nurse 86830 
Executive Office Vice-Chancellor's Executive Officer 86061 
  Executive Officer (Governance) 86071 
Social Media Team Digital Marketing and Social Media Manager 86947 

Lucy Backhurst - Academic Registrar

Approved by:

  • Senate
  • Council

Appendix 1 – Security checklist

The Director of Student Health (and if applicable, the Accommodation Duty Manager) will need as much information as possible but this should always include, the identity of the student if known, where their body was discovered, by whom and under what circumstances, who informed the police, name collar number and contact number for the lead police officer.

  • Secure the site and ensure that nothing is moved
  • If it is a ‘violent, unnatural death, or sudden death of which the cause is unknown’ then the Coroner’s Act 1988 imposes on the Coroner a duty (usually delegated to the Police at the scene) to establish: who the deceased was, where, when and how the deceased met their death and the details required for the registration of the death
  • The police will arrange for the removal of the students and any necessary post mortem
  • The police (or hospital) will arrange for the next of kin to be informed

University staff should never confirm the death of a student to any third party without consultation with the Director of Student Health and Wellbeing.

In the unlikely event that the police do not undertake this duty, responsibility will fall to the Director of the Student Health and Wellbeing Services, there delegate or another appropriate senior member of University staff. The veracity of the information about the death of a student should be fully confirmed before making any contact with the next of kin.

  • Any witnesses whom the Police wish to interview should be taken to a private area removed from the immediate scene as soon as possible.

Document control information

Does this replace another policy? No


  • Approved by: Executive Board and Senate in July 2021
  • Effective from: August 2021
  • Review due: August 2022 every five years or shorter period:


  • Executive sponsor: Colin Campbell
  • Policy owner: Alcohol and Drug Working Group
  • Person(s) responsible for compliance: SHWS
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Analysis: Held by SHWS

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