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Underage Student Management policy

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Section 1 - Preamble

(1) This Policy was approved by the Vice-Chancellor on 12 February 2017.

(2) This Policy includes the following schedule:

  1. Schedule A: Students Under-18 - Information for Parents and Guardians (including the Consent Form for applicants who will be under the age of 18 on commencement of their course).
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Section 2 - Purpose

(3) This Policy facilitates the successful entry, transition, learning and support of domestic students under the legal age of 18 years (underage students).

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Section 3 - Scope

(4) This Policy applies to domestic students seeking enrolment and/or students enrolled in a unit or course offered by the University who will be or are under 18 at the date of commencement with particular emphasis on those aged under 17. This Policy:

  1. does not apply to the Deakin University English Language Institute (DUELI). DUELI has separate policies and procedures relating to the enrolment and management of underage students
  2. ceases to apply to students once they reach 18.

(5) Additional requirements are imposed in respect of international underage students in accordance with Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000. These requirements are outlined in more detail in on the University’s International Quality and Compliance website.

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Section 4 - Policy

Enrolment and admission

(6) The University welcomes applications from candidates of all ages, including those who are under the age of 18. All applications are considered on their respective merits and the University may grant places to underage students where:

  1. it determines that they are academically qualified to successfully complete the relevant programme of study
  2. there are places available
  3. the University has received the completed Consent Form for applicants who will be under the age of 18 on commencement of their course attached to Schedule A: Students Under-18 – Information for Parents and Guardians.

The University is an adult learning environment

(7) The University offers its students an adult environment and treats them as mature, independent individuals. All students (including underage students) are expected to act as adults, behave in an appropriate adult manner and abide by University policies and legislation. The University will provide information to parents/legal guardians and underage applicants explaining the key elements of an adult learning environment and the requirements and expectations that flow from this. (Refer to Schedule A: Students Under-18 - Information for Parents and Guardians).    

Parental responsibility

(8) The University is not able to take on the usual rights, responsibilities and authority that parents/guardians have in relation to a child, and it will not act in the place of parents/guardians in relation to students who are under the age of 18 years.

Support for underage students

(9) The University recognises that underage students may have an additional need for support and require the appropriate involvement of their parent/legal guardian. Support for underage students is as follows:

  1. The Division of Student Administration will advise the Executive Director, Student Life of students who are under 17 years of age at the time when the students accepts their offer.
  2. The Executive Director, Student Life will then assign a staff member as the key contact point between the University and that student and their parents/guardian and subject to clause 15 to put in place a mutually agreed communication strategy.
  3. The assigned staff member will consult with the relevant Faculty General Manager on the communication strategy and confirm the role of Faculty staff.
  4. The age and maturity of the student will impact on the level of support needed. As a minimum for students under 17 years of age the assigned staff member:
    1. will meet or communicate directly with the student weekly for the first four weeks of Trimester and every four weeks thereafter to check on the student’s successful transition to University life and study
    2. be available to respond to queries from the student and their parents/guardian with the limits of Privacy requirements.
  5. Any member of staff can facilitate access to University support services including Medical, Counselling, Academic Skills, Research Skills and Information Literacy once made aware of the particular needs of students under 17 years of age.
  6. The support is provided to students under 17 years of age will be provided until the student is satisfactorily acclimatised to University life after consultation with the student and the parent/guardian or once the student reaches the age of 17.
  7. Students aged 17 will be treated as independent, mature individuals. Students who are aged 17 will not be provided with additional support, service or welfare monitoring unless specifically requested by the parent/guardian or student and agreed to by the University.

Student protection and wellbeing

(10) If any staff member is concerned about the wellbeing of an underage student, they must raise these concerns with the Executive Director, Student Life or their Faculty General Manager to instigate an appropriate intervention. This may include assisting the student to access the University Medical and Counselling Services or in the case of significant concerns for the wellbeing of an underage student, the Executive Director, Student Life or Faculty General Manager can make a report to the relevant external authorities, including the Victoria Police and/or Victorian Child Protection Service.

(11) Treatment provided by the University’s medical and counselling services requires informed consent. Clinicians providing services to underage students will need to satisfy themselves that the student is capable of providing informed consent, ensuring that the student fully comprehends the nature, benefits and risks associated with any proposed service. Where it is reasonably determined that an underage student has provided informed consent, such consent is also required for the disclosure of information to a parent or guardian.

(12) In cases of a medical emergency (for example, where emergency medical treatment is required for the underage student), action may need to be taken in the best interests of the student before parents or guardians can be contacted. In such cases, parents are deemed (by virtue of having signed the Consent Form for applicants who will be under the age of 18 on commencement of their course) to permit a senior member of the University (acting in accordance with medical advice, as appropriate) to do whatever is necessary in the student’s best interests. 

Alcohol

(13) Serving alcohol to people under 18 is illegal. Staff responsible for managing University events must ensure that alcohol is not served to underage students. At any event at which alcohol is provided, an adequate supply of non-alcoholic drinks and food should also be served.

Contracts

(14) The normal relationship between the University and the student has contractual elements. Where contracts are required, for example for tuition fees or accommodation, the University requires parent or legal guardian to act as guarantors and to honour all obligations under any contracts with the University that the student enters into prior to her or his 18th birthday.

Privacy

(15) The University is required to comply with the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic), the Health Records Act 2001 (Vic), and the Privacy policy in relation to all students' personal information, such as for example their academic progress and related matters. It is the University’s usual policy to communicate with students and not with parents or legal guardians. This approach will also apply to students who are under the age of 18 years, unless consented by the student or unless there was an imminent risk to the safety and wellbeing of the student.

University off-campus activities

(16) As part of their programs of study, students may be required (or offered the opportunity) to attend field trips, excursions or other off-site study activities. The University is not able to make any special arrangements for underage students in this regard. That being the case:

  1. the parent or legal guardian gives consent for the student 17 years of age to take part in these activities by signing the Consent Form for applicants who will be under the age of 18 on commencement of their course
  2. a student who is under the age of 17 will not be permitted to attend any overnight activity unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Activities arranged and conducted by Deakin University Student Association (DUSA) or Student Clubs and Student Societies

(17) Those providing social or sporting activities need to be aware of the presence of under 18 year olds and foremost take appropriate action to ensure compliance with the law but also provide social and recreational activities suitable to Deakin’s student cohort, including students under 18.   

(18) The University will require DUSA and Student Clubs and Societies to reflect the University’s position on the participation of students under 17 in overnight activities.   

Working with Children Checks

(19) Working with Children Checks will be required in accordance with relevant University Policies and the Child Wellbeing and Safety Amendment (Child Safe Standards) Act 2015. As a minimum, staff assigned under clause 9 of this Policy will be required to hold a working with children check. 

Insurance

(20) All underage students are covered by the University’s insurance policies.

Information Management

(21) The assigned staff member will record the agreed communication strategy and subsequent routine interactions with the student and parent/guardian utilising the University Student Management System. More complex or lengthy records including correspondence from parents/guardians will be recorded using the University records management system.

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Section 5 - Procedure

(22) There is no attendant Procedure.

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Section 6 - Definitions

(23) For the purpose of this Policy:

  1. Underage student: A student enrolled or enrolling in a course at the University who is or will be under 18 years of age on commencement of their course, which includes any pre-teaching orientation or other activity.