Students may sometimes face difficulties which mean that they may miss class – such as ill health or personal circumstances.
As an institution, we have a duty to monitor this because of the potential impact of repeated absence on academic performance; the potential implications of repeated absence in terms of student wellbeing; and any visa implications, as relevant, for international students. We are legally required to monitor the attendance of students who are at Leeds on study visas.
The University has modified and updated its approach to monitoring attendance in recent years, and while the formal policy is consistent across the University, the School-level approach in terms of ‘who does what’ may vary, depending on your school’s structure, size, programmes, etc. You should speak with your line manager to find out how these processes are operationalised in your area. You will also wish to consult the University Engagement Monitoring Policy.
You may also want to be aware of the University’s Unsatisfactory Work, Attendance and Engagement Procedure.
Engagement is an all-encompassing term which includes a student’s online interactions. (Engagement monitoring , as a process, is typically looked after within Programme Support, but may necessarily require Student Support intervention and/or involvement.)
Attendance relates specifically to presence at class.
If a student is going to miss a class, they are required to fill in an online absence request form, which automatically generates an email to their School. The email details the student’s name and SID, as well as which classes will be missed and the reasons for absence.
A designated member of the SES team will decide whether the reasons for absence will be authorised or not authorised – more information about this, including how a student logs an absence request, can be found here.
As a Student Support Officer, you may manage absence requests yourself; or, you may have them triaged to you by another member of your team, if, for example, a student is disclosing something of concern that is causing them to be absent from class - such as mental health, harassment or abuse, or anything else that might require intervention and specialist support.
Remember, again, that you are not a medical professional. If a student of concern comes to your attention via the absence request process, your role would be to reach out to the student and offer them a Support meeting, to determine what sort of help they might need.
You may also wish to send some initial information about relevant services, such as Student Counselling and Wellbeing, if they have disclosed mental health or wellbeing concerns.
Depending on how monitoring is done in your School, you may also have sight of how often absence requests have come in for a student, which can tell you something more about the extent of an issue and inform your approach.
Student Call Handlers are staff who also work closely with School Student Support Teams and Engagement Monitoring colleagues. They receive specific data via Engagement Monitoring colleagues, about students who are showing up for very low or non-engagement. Their role is to reach out to these students by telephone as a check-in. Sometimes, these students will need signposting to their School support teams.