Student, 21, killed himself after being told he’d failed second year over email

Nottingham Trent University ‘missed an opportunity’ to save Alex Hayter’s life, his dad has claimed (Picture: Hampshire Police)

A university student, 21, took his own life after finding out he’d failed his second year over email, an inquest has heard.

Alex Hayter’s dad claims Nottingham Trent University could have saved his ‘gorgeous and funny’ son’s life if staff had picked up on ‘red flags’ in his behaviour.

The young man was struggling to cope with his computer science assignments after moving home amid the first wave of the coronavirus crisis.

After failing a number of modules, he chose to do five assessments and one exam over summer so he wouldn’t be forced to repeat the year.

Coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp said the work set was ‘understandable’ but ‘unrealistic’.

Alex stopped responding to the university after agreeing to take on the extra work and didn’t submit his assignments or complete his exam on time, Winchester Coroner’s Court heard.

An urgent search was launched as he vanished after going for a walk following the news he’d failed the year and would have to resit in 2021.

He was found dead near his home in the village of Abbotts Ann, Hampshire on September 21.

The second year student was ‘gorgeous, funny and clever’, his loved ones said (Picture: Hampshire Police)

His family has said there are no words to ‘express how distraught and heartbroken we are that our gorgeous, funny, clever Alex, our beloved son, and brother, is no longer with us’.

A statement from his loved ones said: ‘He leaves a void in our family that can never be filled. The future that we had hoped for him will not happen.’

His father Andrew Hayter believes the university ‘missed an opportunity’ to save his life and should have reached out to his emergency contacts if they had concerns.

The university has since implemented changes and will now contact students in person if they fail the year, Professor Mary O’Neill, Executive Dean for School of Science and Technology at Nottingham Trent University, has confirmed.

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But emergency contacts are still only called in extreme circumstances and missing an exam would not ring alarm bells.

Coroner 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.

Mr Hayter has called for an opt-in suicide prevention strategy, similar to Bristol University’s.

This would see students decide whether to allow the university to contact their next-of-kin if there are serious concerns about their well-being.

Nottingham Trent University said there are policies and procedures in place to support students (Picture: PA Images Contributor/Press Association Images)

Coroner Ms Rhodes-Kemp has not yet decided whether a prevention of future death report should be produced for Nottingham Trent University.

She said: ‘I am satisfied that Alex did take his own life and intended to do so. I certainly think the problems he had at university would have been a factor.’

A spokesperson for Nottingham Trent University told Metro.co.uk staff didn’t know Alex required support before his death.

A statement read: ‘We were saddened to hear about the tragic death of computer science student Alex Hayter and our thoughts remain with his family and friends at this difficult time.

‘The university is providing bereavement support to any students and colleagues who may have been affected and would welcome anyone who needs support to come forwards.

‘NTU has policies and procedures in place to support students with known mental health conditions or wellbeing concerns, and we proactively approach students who are displaying any cause for concern.’

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