AN ANDOVER student took his life after discovering he had failed his second year at university via email, an inquest has heard.

Alex James Hayter’s father Andrew said Nottingham Trent University could have saved his 21-year-old son’s life if they had picked up on the signs earlier, Winchester Coroner’s Court was told on Tuesday.

Described as “funny, clever and gorgeous” by loved ones, Alex had no previous mental health problems and had been studying computer science in Nottingham.

The coroner heard Alex was finding it difficult to cope with his assignments after moving home to Abbotts Ann, Andover, during the pandemic.

After not managing to complete his modules over the summer, Alex received an email from the university on September 14, 2020, to say he had failed his second academic year and would be required to resit it in 2021.

He went out for a walk and never returned, prompting a missing person’s appeal. Six days later, he was found dead on September 21, near Dutch Barn, Abbotts Ann. 

His father Andrew told the inquest his son’s change in behaviour at university should have raised alarm bells ringing and claimed they failed to pick up on the red flags.

After failing a number of modules, Alex opted to complete five assessments and one exam over the summer break in an attempt not to repeat the year.

Coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp called the workload set by Nottingham Trent University ‘understandable’ but ‘unrealistic’. After the initial conversation agreeing to complete the work, Alex ceased all contact with the university.

His father Andrew Hayer said Alex’s sudden failure to communicate with the university should have been a ‘red flag’ and questioned why his next-of-kin were not contacted.

Alex didn’t manage to submit his assignments and complete his exam on time which meant he didn’t pass the year. Andrew told the inquest during his statement that the university ‘missed an opportunity’ to save Alex’s life by not contacting his next of kin, adding that the university should reach out to a student’s emergency contact as a ‘duty of care’ if they have concerns.

He has called for the university to implement an optin suicide prevention strategy similar to that used at the University of Bristol, where 90 per cent of students have signed up. It means staff are able to contact their guardians if they grow concerned about their wellbeing.

Coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp said Nottingham Trent University has a “lot of systems in place” but added that it would be “helpful” to reach out to students who show a lack of engagement in their studies.

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