Information Event – Abrahart vs University of Bristol ruling

Update: VWV legal advisers are no longer able to attend the meeting but are prepared to provide a advisory document based on our comments and questions.

Universities and colleges are currently examining the findings of Judge Ralton in the Abrahart vs University of Bristol County Court judgement. This case clearly has hugely significant implications for HE providers and possibly other types of education provider too.

Many Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are putting task forces together to consider how they will respond as institutions and NADP produced a briefing document last week (see references).

In order to support members, we are now organising an online meeting for Heads of Service or their representatives (one per institution please) on Monday 6th June at 13:00-14:30.

At our prior discussion with VWV legal advisers, they mentioned the relationship of this case to the HEI’s Duty of Care requirements and the lack of clarity of start and end-point of this duty and how this may affect discussions within HEIs which is an additional area to consider.

The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care recently recommended that all Higher Education Providers should become ‘Corporate Parents’.  This is already in place in Scotland where all higher education institutions (HEIs) are formally corporate parents by law, and every institution in Scotland publishes a corporate parenting plan to outline how they are fulfilling their legal duty. 

A ‘corporate parent’ is the legal duty for institutions to do everything in their power to improve the lives of care-experienced people, with the same vigour that any good parent would apply to their own children. This means universities will have to:

  • be alert to matters which, or which might, adversely affect the wellbeing of care experienced students
  • assess the needs of care experienced students for services and support they provide
  • promote the interests of care experienced students
  • seek to provide care experienced students with opportunities to participate in activities designed to promote their wellbeing

We think that the relationship with the Bristol findings means that this may need to be considered by HEIs at the same time.

If you would like to join this meeting, and you are the representative for your university, please book here

Unfortunately, we need to limit these places to one per university so that the meeting numbers are manageable.

There will be an opportunity to ask questions on the day but, if you have any urgent points that you feel require discussion, please submit them here.

VWV are prepared to answer questions around explanations of the judge’s remarks and possible implications but cannot answer specific questions regarding any particular Higher Education Institution. These questions can be submitted beforehand or at the meeting.

References

NADP Recommended Discussion Points for the University of Bristol Case

The full judgment is available at https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Abrahart-v-Uni-Bristol-judgment-200522.pdf

Wonke Report on the Bristol University Ruling: https://wonkhe.com/blogs/what-should-higher-education-learn-from-the-natasha-abrahart-case/

Wonke Report on the Care Review: https://wonkhe.com/blogs/care-review/

Full Care Review Report: https://childrenssocialcare.independent-review.uk/final-report/

Additional information:

Shakespeare Martineau Legal Firm have issued a podcast on this topic. The podcast can be found here:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-learnings-from-a-tragedy/id1582033658?i=1000563980443

However there is no transcript so please download here