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Ethical advising policy

Who is it for?

Our ethical advising policy is intended for all those advising international students, whether or not they have the word advisor in their job title. It sets out the principles of professionalism and best practice to which Studee would expect their team members and partners to adhere.

What is it?

This policy offers a guide to professional behaviour when working with international students and their family members and a helpful resource for difficult situations including ethical dilemmas.

What is ‘immigration advice’ and what is ‘immigration guidance’?

It is important to be clear that our in-house advisor team at Studee gives immigration guidance. This includes signposting students to where they can find the most up-to-date visa advice and giving them a checklist of what documents and processes they need to complete.

Studee's advisors are not qualified immigration officers. and therefore can only provide guidance on visa application.

To provide immigration advice you need to be certified and normally located in the country you are giving advice to that the student wants to study in.

The key ethical dilemmas

In any advice setting, whatever the advice topic, two of the key issues advisors need to manage are:

  1. conflicts of interest and
  2. confidentiality, including knowing/indicating when that confidentiality can/will be broken. For example, confidentiality must be broken when a student has disclosed a mental health condition which means that they are at risk of harm.

In any advice setting the following policies are also applicable:

  • Code of conduct and ethics
  • Ethical advertising
  • Statement of ethical and sustainability principles

1. Those advising international students have a general responsibility to:

a) maintain high standards of professional conduct by actively upholding this policy at all times.

b) act in the best interests of the student, while respecting institutional policies, statutory, and legal requirements. For example, adhering to Studee’s data protection standards and giving immigration guidance, and referring them to other sources rather than advice.

c) recognize the power of influence that comes with their role as an advisor and ensure that it is used appropriately. For example, some students could see advisors as a figure of authority and be swayed by the advisor's opinion. It’s important to always act in the best interests of the student and not the organization.

d) be alert to ethical dilemmas and potential conflicts of interest and seek guidance from the Vice President of Student Services when they arise. For example, be alert to financial sponsor's requirements.

e) share professional knowledge and skills and contribute to the professional development of colleagues.

2. In doing their role, those advising international students shall:

a) accurately represent their areas of competence, education, training and experience. For example, always be truthful with the student about your knowledge and experience, as well as its limits.

b) recognize the boundaries of their qualifications and competence, making appropriate referrals to the Vice President of Student Services or Lead Advisors when situations fall outside them.

Always ensure you advise students in the areas you are competent in and refer students to other advisors or information sources for additional support. For example, checking the validity of documentation and not accepting fraudulent applications/documents.

c) actively seek to promote their professional development and keep themselves informed of current developments in their fields. For example, always keep an eye out for further training opportunities.

d) keep themselves informed, as may be relevant to their areas of advice, for example, universities admissions criteria and visa and application procedures.

3. In their dealings with students and colleagues, those advising international students shall:

a) act in good faith and with fairness, consideration, and impartially. For example, an advisor may not be able to act impartially if a student they’re helping wants to complain about a colleague of theirs. Always refer to the Vice President of Student Services in cases like these.

b) recognize their own cultural and value orientations and be aware of how those orientations affect their interactions with people from other cultures. For example, ensure advisors do our training on cultural differences and become self-aware of their own unconscious biases that could affect how they support particular types of students.

c) be aware of, and show appropriate sensitivity to and respect for, other cultures and value systems. For example, be sensitive towards students who talk about their culture which may demonstrate inequality between the genders.

d) not discriminate, or tolerate discrimination on the part of others, on the basis of ethnic or national origins, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability or age.

e) refrain from unjustified or unseemly criticism of other advisors or other organizations and seek to resolve any conflict of advice directly with the other advisor concerned in a professional manner.

f) maintain the confidentiality and integrity of information about students and of communications with students, complying with data protection law and Studee’s privacy policy.

g) do nothing to support or encourage illegal actions. For example, be careful when advising a student of their options, do not actively encourage or support any illegal actions they mention.

4. In their dealings with students, those advising international students shall:

a) be clear to all parties about their role and boundaries as an advisor and limit advice to matters consistent with that role and its boundaries. Be clear about the advisor role and what it does and does not entail, for example, advisors shall not write documents necessary for applications on behalf of the students.

b) provide students with truthful information they need to make informed choices or decisions and not withhold relevant information. For example, do not withhold information about the fact that we will receive payment from the university once the student has enrolled.

c) be aware of the difference between information, advice, and counseling and be able to recommend qualified counseling assistance to students who may benefit from it. For example, although you may be qualified to give application advice, a student might have a personal problem that may benefit from counseling.

d) refrain from becoming involved in personal relations with individual students when such relationships might result in undue influence on the advisor, or a likely perception of undue influence. For example, our code of conduct does not allow relationships between students and advisors to take place.

e) accept only gifts (including hospitality) of nominal value and only where they do not seem intended to influence the manner in which professional responsibilities are exercised while remaining sensitive to the varying significance of gifts in different cultures.

Comply with any institutional policy on the acceptance or recording of gifts. Seek guidance from the Vice President of Student Services in any circumstance where it may seem appropriate to accept a gift of more than the nominal value. Any gifting above the value of £50 has to be flagged to our compliance officer as per our policy.

f) ensure that students are fully advised of the procedures for them to follow to pursue complaints. Please familiarize yourself with our complaints procedure.