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(29 Posts)
IAmcuriousyellow Thu 05-Nov-15 19:46:25

DD is halfway through her first term. It has been difficult, in that she is high functioning AS and anxiety has prevented her from attending all classes. She had a meeting today with the chaplain and welfare who have offered rustication, to return in autumn 2016 and in the meantime have access to all college facilities, and the strong suggestion is that she takes it. She's been told that there is concern she won't be able to catch up with the work now.

And I've just been reading some horror stories about rustication! People having to leave by the back door and not being allowed to pick up their things - I have no experience of this whatsoever and wonder if I have a part to play in this? Or am I not to be involved as DD is an adult? Should I ask her to if possible get the details (access to college facilities) in writing, or at least confirm this with tutors?

She registered with the disability service there only very recently, just this week, and has been told that next year she'll have a mentor - she did all her own paperwork and I honestly thought she was registered with them already and I think if she had been it would have made a difference.

Has this happened to anyone else's kid?

IAmcuriousyellow Thu 05-Nov-15 23:39:50

I meant to say, does anyone have any advice for me.. is there something I should be doing? questions I should ask? Is it none of my business? I can't help but to think of rustication as a punishment.

BusShelter Fri 06-Nov-15 00:31:47

I would be shy to get involved as long as your DD is ok with it. Anyone would find it overwhelming. When adults have difficulties at work no one says anything if they ask for help from their union rep do they.
What does your DD want to do? Taking a year out might not be a bad thing. It's only a year and it might give her time to compose herself for next year. Is the course particularly stressful? Might she want to look at a course or uni which she might find less stressful (more contact time, less contact time, smaller course, less exam based..or whatever).

Hope everything works out for your DD.

BusShelter Fri 06-Nov-15 00:32:53

Agh he, I meant I wouldn't be shy blush

woffa Fri 06-Nov-15 07:36:43

I assume your DD is at Oxford? I have some knowledge of Cambridge where the same process is called 'intermitting'. It used to be called 'degrading' until a fairly recent student campaign changed the name to something less, well, degrading.
That probably tells you that at Cambridge, at least, there seemed to be a certain lack of tolerance for such things and students were often not allowed to set foot on college property at all during their year away.

Things have changed and there is a lot more commitment to student welfare. My DC has a friend who is intermitting due to anxiety issues and she plans to return next year.
The received wisdom is that, for many courses, missing two weeks of term or more for any reason makes it virtually impossible to catch up with work. That is for someone without your DD's issues so if she has been advised to take a year out I would imagine that they feel she has a very steep hill to climb if she tries to catch up herself.

The welfare people will be happy to talk to you in general terms but won't discuss your DD's personal circumstances unless she wants them to, assuming she is over eighteen.

Oxbridge is a tough place for DC who are not resilient so perhaps look at how the college can support her better or think of changing college if necessary. It is there to push students to their academic limits and my own DC says his course is equivalent to around three times his Sixth form workload.

Tutors I have spoken with have expressed a degree of frustration that students apply without mentioning any pre-existing conditions particularly e.g. anxiety/ depression/ eating disorder and then everything can fall apart once they have to manage it all away from home for the first time despite this being a long-standing mental health condition (not suggesting your DD is in this position).

She could use her year out to take a step back, maybe find some work in a low stress environent and re-evaluate what she really wants. That may be an Oxford degree or something completely different. She may have 3 three years of stress and misery at Oxford for a II.2 or go somewhere else she loves and can manage the workload without as much pressure and come out with a First.

Good Luck to your daughter whatever she decides, she is lucky to have a Mum like you to come home to.

AtiaoftheJulii Fri 06-Nov-15 08:19:38

I think in your daughter's case, it's clearly not being suggested as a punishment, but as a way of helping her, offering her time to work out (new) ways of dealing with her issues.

I would definitely want written confirmation of being able to use college facilities - my understanding was that if one were rusticated, one wasn't supposed to be in Oxford at all! (Although this was certainly not enforced in the case of the one person i knew who was rusticated.)

MrsMolesworth Fri 06-Nov-15 08:24:54

There's a difference between rustication and being sent down. Being sent down is when you must leave due to bad behaviour. In certain cases, this does mean no access back into college. Rustication is more of a pastoral issue, and these days I'd expect a student to be guided through it by the welfare team.

DamnCommandments Fri 06-Nov-15 08:28:11

My friend was rusticated after glandular fever and students who were found to be putting her up when she visited were threatened with punishment. I think you/she are right to be nervous. Yes, two weeks behind is a long way in a short term, but if she has a disability the college should surely offer reasonable adjustment? This might be offering to mark her written work over Christmas break, for example. It's much harder if she's lab-based, but I could have had my essays marked later without much loss. What classes has she missed? I would get involved, if I were you. College won't be surprised, and your DD may need the support to negotiate a solution that works for her.

Btw it's LUDICROUS that the sodding chaplains are still the people looking after student welfare. Really gets my goat. Sorry - as you were.

DamnCommandments Fri 06-Nov-15 08:30:20

I was also at college with a man who was repeatedly rusticated with severe mental health problems. He finished his degree two years late, and without all the bells and whistles, but he finished. And he was a lot less angry about it than my friend - I think because he wasn't week enough to be hanging around in Oxford in any event.

INeedACheeseSlicer Fri 06-Nov-15 08:41:26

Is your DD at Oxford?

A bit out of date, but one of my friends did similar when I was there. I think he spent the year out doing plenty of reading around his subject, a bit of part time work, plus therapy for his mh issues.

I don't know if there was an issue about having access to college property/university facilities during that year; I think he used the university library in the town near where he lived instead anyway.

He came back a year later, and was given lots of support from the college nurse and welfare team. (Ended up getting a first as well). In that case, I think it was definitely the right decision to take a year out.

My friend left later through the course and had already made lots of friends; we all kept in touch, though several of us had left when he came back again, which was a shame, but he knew most of the people in the year below anyway, and they welcomed him into their tutorial groups.

In your DD's case, perhaps taking a year out would have less impact socially if she has only just started; any friends she has made should still be there when she returns, and she gets the chance to "start again" next autumn with a new peer group who are all starting at the same time.

Of course things may have changed since I was there, but you would have hoped they would have improved and changed for the better, rather than got less helpful and supportive.

JeanneDeMontbaston Fri 06-Nov-15 08:44:41

You do need to be out of it, because she is an adult (they're not legally meant to talk to you without her consent). But it sounds pretty clear this is not intended as a punishment and she could do with some support. I'd definitely ask her to check exactly what's being suggested - even just to ask, saying she's worried about what 'rustication' means (why must people use terms like that?!), and wants to know exactly how she'll organise coming back next year. It sounds completely sensible for her to ask for this in writing - not just so it feels official, but also so she can refer back to it later on and make sure she's doing exactly what she needs to be doing.

FWIW, I degraded during my degree, and it was pretty horrible because it was badly mis-managed, so I do know the horror stories. But that was a fair while ago and didn't involve anyone carefully talking it through with me and 'offering' it as an option, as is your daughter's case, so I do think this sounds very different. I've also had a couple of students who took time out for reasons similar to your DD's, and it went well for both of them.

She should be able to get loans for the length of the course plus one year, so she will be eligible again next year if she does take this time out.

Molio Fri 06-Nov-15 08:53:03

Rustication is far more common than you'd think but I'm not surprised it's a bit of a shock if you haven't come across it before. One person I knew who rusticated very recently then come top of his year in his subject, having secured every (hugely competitive) job he applied for so the ending was very happy indeed - since he's happy as well. A lot of students come back to do absolutely fine. Of all the students I've known recently to rusticate (seven), each one has returned to complete their degree or is currently in the process of completing it. These were not students with 'severe' mental health problems - that would be overstating their situation. There seems to be a lot of understanding and remarkably little stigma as the world gets kinder with these things, thankfully. I've also known a number of near rustications where the student has had a tough time but struggled on. It is only the fourth week after all. She could stay up in the holidays as one student I know did, but in that case the tutor was prepared to give him extra time (that was after an operation, but he missed at least the same amount of time as your DD). I would say that if she's going to rusticate then now is a good time to do it before too many friendships are forged, with the caveat that having gone early she should try to remain positive about going back next year rather than giving up her place too easily - the college clearly want her. I'm doubtful that the welfare teams will talk to you independently about more than the most general of things, though how about going to Oxford to talk together with the tutor responsible for welfare (who may well be a medic), or your DD's subject tutor?

IAmcuriousyellow Fri 06-Nov-15 08:55:57

Thanks all so much for replying. at the moment she just wants to come home but I know that once she's had a few days to decompress she will be regretful and beating herself up for her "failure" (and her perfectionism is very much part of the problem) so I would like to maybe have another option. I want to ask the college if it's possible to do some kind of distance learning, get to grips with the most difficult aspect of the course (logic) at home where she feels safe - and she studies extremely well here - and return in January but I don't know who to ask or if this will be an outrageous suggestion. Do I just email/phone one of the tutors?

JeanneDeMontbaston Fri 06-Nov-15 09:10:22

But she absolutely hasn't failed! (I know you know that, but she needs to know it too).

You can't really email/phone a tutor - we're not allowed to talk to a parent about another adult, and it's awkward for us and you. It's a legal issue, a data protection one.

Molio Fri 06-Nov-15 09:13:14

It's not 'failure' yellow and she's far from alone. If the real problem is a course specific one such as hitting a wall with logic, then that's a different issue I'd have said although obviously it will trip the anxiety. I think you'd be right to try to tackle it from that perspective rather than letting the college go too fast down the general anxiety route - although they're obviously doing their best to help. Your poor DD. I think you've previously mentioned her course and I might be wrong but is it joint? How would she feel about dropping the philosophy - that's another well trodden route but she might feel she's 'failed' less by going to single honours rather than rusticating. Sorry if I'm barking up the wrong tree.

IAmcuriousyellow Fri 06-Nov-15 09:48:51

Molio you are right, and thank you so much for your reply. Where I think the problem really lies is that the disability service were not aware of her until this week and had they known she would have had a mentor - she does now have a mentor but not until week 6 and it's week 4. But had I insisted on being involved with the admin and made sure the support was in place for her I honestly don't think she'd be in this position now. Even so it may be the very best thing for her to have a year at home. I'm talking to her now and have a call from the chaplain this afternoon so I'm very grateful for everyone's advice, I feel more prepared now. I've waded in roughshod in ignorance before in this kind of situation and didn't want to put my foot in it again!

MrsHathaway Fri 06-Nov-15 10:19:48

Someone in my year at Cambridge had started the year before but not managed more than a few weeks. She slotted in with us just fine and came out with a very good degree, good job, etc. The only reason we even knew about it was because she was uncommonly familiar with the buildings and second years when we arrived!

If they're allowing her to use the facilities and you are/she is geographically near enough, then fantastic! She can read and get ahead. She might even be allowed into the lectures if she's still a member of the university (although if she wants a fee remission that might not be allowed) so she can absorb everything at a comfortable pace this year and hit the ground running in October 2016.

It sounds like a fantastic opportunity to me.

DamnCommandments Fri 06-Nov-15 10:56:22

Logic is usually (?) taught in bigger groups than other parts of the course. Often she'll be in pairs/threes with a tutor, but logic might be her whole cohort - could be 15 or 20 people. A reasonable adjustment might be smaller groups for her if that would help?

flowers It must be so hard knowing that she's hurting but being unable to effectively intervene on her behalf.

DamnCommandments Fri 06-Nov-15 10:57:14

Also logic is a bloody nightmare. Sympathies.

BusShelter Fri 06-Nov-15 12:54:27

My DCs are at various Unis and all seem to know students who started at Oxbridge but who decided it wasn't for them for whatever reason. From what my DC say they are happy at their new Unis. If your DD is a stressfuln and anxious person then maybe be at such a pressurized Uni isn't the best place for her.

OP are you far from your DD? Are you able to go and meet up with her this weekend. Might you find out a a lot more about what is happening if you speak with her in person.

Ultimately whatever happens must be your DDs decision.

PeasePuddingCold Fri 06-Nov-15 16:20:04

We call it "intercalation," "leave of absence," or "interruption." From what you've said about your DD's situation, it's to help her adjust properly to university life & study. It's not a punishment, but a recognition that, for whatever reason, she's not coping well at the moment. A lot of students nowadays are simply not prepared for the level of independence required for university study, unfortunately.

It's a real shame your DD didn't take advantage of the support that universities offer for learning disabilities. It can make all the difference - going some of the way to levelling out an uneven playing field for a struggling student.

What she should do for the rest of her time until next September: she needs to keep study habit. Could she do WEA or FE leisure courses: learn a language at night school, do a life-drawing class, learn a musical instrument? Something which keeps the brain over, and gets her to think outside herself. I'd also suggest activities that give her the other life skills that it seems have been missing or difficult or problematic - time-keeping, organisation, etc etc etc. Paid or volunteer work is excellent for this, so is travel with a purpose - travelling somewhere to see or do something.

These are general ideas, you'll need to discuss with your DD what specific things she should do.

But she really shouldn't do nothing.

AtiaoftheJulii Fri 06-Nov-15 16:53:18

For logic, there are resources online (and I assume she's got the book), so she could carry on working on that whilst rusticated. There are other books available too - the Wilfred Hodges book that Oxford used to use for logic is more 'chatty', bit of a gentler introduction perhaps.

You can't go over her head to talk to people or make arrangements, but I'm sure you could accompany her to meetings, if that's practical? It's perfectly reasonable for anyone to take an advocate/witness with them to that sort of negotiation.

openday Fri 06-Nov-15 17:15:53

Weighing in here as an Oxbridge tutor, to say that rustification (or as I prefer to call it, suspension) is absolutely not a punishment in a case like this. I have had several students take a year off for mental health reasons (eating disorders, substance addiction and the like). In the view of the college, this is no different to taking a year out for any other kind of debilitating illness that affected the student's fitness to study. It is not punitive in any way.

I'm happy to say that in all the cases I've dealt with, the students have returned and completed their degrees successfully. The essential thing is that during the year away, students get access to all the medical help and therapy they need, so that they can be in a better position to cope when they return.

I have the utmost respect for some of these students: Oxbridge is a high-pressure environment that represents a challenge for everyone (especially at the beginning) and trying to cope with the workload even when you don't have an illness or disability is no small feat. So to cope with illness and/or disability, and do the degree anyway, makes them worthy of respect and admiration in my book.

Another thing I would say is that students don't get suspended lightly. Numerous meetings will have taken place with your DD and the college welfare team, her tutors and the college GPs. A lot of different people, and your DD herself, would have weighed up all the options and come to the conclusion that this is the best thing for her to do. It would be wrong to assume that just because a student has been suspended, the support she was receiving from the college was inadequate. Sometimes tutors can try to move heaven and earth to help a student, but it's not enough - the student is ill and needs to go away and take time to recover.

It's too bad that your DD didn't register with disability services earlier, because that might indeed have made a difference, but at least she will have a mentor when she returns.

The way the Oxbridge courses work unfortunately means that you can't really take part of the first year off - it's either the whole year or nothing. The Prelims exams at the end test all the material covered throughout the year, and if you miss a term, there's no realistic way to cram the missed material back in later in the year (because everyone keeps moving ahead at the same intense pace). That's why redoing the year is the best option.

Do encourage your DD when she comes back home. Focus on what she has accomplished; I suspect she will have had positive feedback from tutors as well as negative. She has made a start at her degree; it's absolutely possible for her to go back and finish it, and indeed that's what her tutors will be expecting and hoping for her to do. Encourage her to stay in touch with her tutors via email.

As a mum myself I would be happy to talk to a student's mum, but as Jeanne has said, we can't - students are adults and that would violate all sorts of confidentiality rules. It's good that you are going to have a chat with the chaplain.

All the best to you and your DD. flowers

PeasePuddingCold Fri 06-Nov-15 17:34:05

To echo the post above: I've had students take a year out, and come back far far better for it. I had one lovely young woman thank us for "forcing" her to interrupt for 9 moths, as she realised when she came back that it had been the right thing we do generally know what we're talking about grin

Indeed, I've had other students who have resisted intercalation, and limped on, annoying us and themselves because they were simply not fit to study (usually MH issues, about which there is still such shame) with periods of physical absence, or not fully present when physically there, and it's no good for anyone! One student I taught like this ended up with a 3rd and a lot of unhappiness.

So it can be a good thing to take some time out, but your DD needs to talk through an action plan with her tutors for dealing with the issues that have hampered her & getting well. At my place, they have to have a certification of fitness to resume after intercalation. So they really have to do what's needed to get them to a place where they can make the best of the amazing opportunity that is a university education.

IAmcuriousyellow Fri 06-Nov-15 18:03:47

I'm so glad I posted this morning. You've all given me such help and I'm very grateful - and very happy to be going to fetch her home tomorrow. I spoke to both the chaplain and emailed welfare tutor and her fears that she was being sent down by another method have been allayed. There is a very thorough re entry plan starting next summer and contact with her tutors by email in the meantime.

So she's very relieved and determined to spend her time addressing her anxiety and producing online study guides for GCSE English as well as preparing for 2016.

Time for a wine I think and wine and flowers to you all

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