UNIVERSITY POLICY ON PLACEMENTS - 2021/22

1. Purpose and Scope

 

Placements and work-based learning play an important role in the student experience: enabling students to achieve the learning outcomes of their course; enriching their learning with experience; providing the opportunity for students to explore potential career paths; develop the skills and behaviours required by employers, and; may be a compulsory/mandated element of the course, for example to meet requirements of Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies. As part of Graduate Success, the University is committed to expand experiential learning opportunities in all courses to ensure that students understand the linkages between their course and the world of work. This Policy sets out the various roles and responsibilities of the University, Placement Students and external Placement Providers to ensure that robust processes are in place both to secure the quality of the learning opportunities and to mitigate any risk. The Policy is applicable to all Undergraduate, Postgraduate Taught and Postgraduate Research programmes which include a placement component either in the UK or overseas.

The Policy is informed by and consistent with the Advice and Guidance for Learning and Teaching, Course Design, Enabling Student Achievement, Partnerships and Work-Based Learning of the Quality Assurance Agency’s revised UK Quality Code for Higher Education (2018).

The Policy is supported by University Guidance[1] provding furthur explanation and examples of effective practice. Additional course-level information will be provided by Schools and, where relevant, the Study Abroad Office. 

FOOTNOTE

[1] Note that there are separate guidance documents for taught programmes and PGR students

 

2. Definitions

 

placement is a period of academic or vocational activity, integral to the student’s course, where, whilst still enrolled at the University and subject to its regulations, the student is in an approved situation outside of their normal academic context either in the UK or overseas, including where UEA is acting as the placement provider. A placement may be credit-bearing or non credit-bearing; paid or unpaid; delivered at course or module level[2]. A placement may be sourced either by the University or the individual student; in all cases it needs approved by the relevant School. 

Appropriate processes for different types of placement are outlined in section 3. Further detail is provided in the University Guidance on Placements. The Policy is applicable where appropriate to Apprentices where placements form part of the course. The Policy is applicable to research degree students involved in formal collaborations with non-academic partners (broadly defined), as in the case of industrial studentships. In such cases, the terminology used for placement activity may differ from that used in this policy. The principles set out in this policy should be followed for equivalent types of placement activity, as interpreted at the local level.

“Placement (activity)” will not normally refer to any extra-curricular activity, work experience (including internships) or any other venture which is outside of the student’s planned course even if the activity is relevant in some way to the student’s studies or is facilitated or organised by a School of Study. While not covered by the Policy, the expectation is that such activities will be consistent with its ethos. 

The Placement Director is responsible for the general oversight of the School’s placement activity, and ensuring that compliance with the Policy on Placements is appropriately met.

3. General Principles

 

In line with the Work Based and Placement Learning Association’s (ASET) Good Practice Guide for Work Based and Placement Learning in Higher Education (2013), the principles for all placement activity are:

  • That placements are a three-way partnership between the University (in effect a School of Study), the Placement Student and the Placement Provider
  • That good communication will take place between parties, and responsibilities of each are clearly outlined and agreed
  • That the learning outcomes of any placement will be clearly identified and assessed appropriately (where relevant) by the School and/or practitioners where appropriate
  • That the University has a duty of care to all students on placement and must ensure that informed decisions are made with respect to health and safety issues relating to the placement
  • That the placement organiser in the School is responsible for ensuring that a suitable and sufficient risk assessment is carried out
  • That Placement Students will receive ongoing support from the University as appropriate to their placement and course of study
  • That the University bears ultimate responsibility for the quality, academic standards and student experience of any placement
  • That the placement enhances a student’s learning experience and contributes to their employability development
  • That the School ensures there is sufficient resource in place to support the placements and that the members of staff overseeing the placements are appropriately qualified
  • That placement opportunities are inclusive and Schools take a proactive approach to ensure that all students, regardless of their backgrounds, are supported in preparation for and during any placement activity as part of their course
  • That clear and timely information and guidance will be available to all those involved in a placement activity
  • That the School keeps clear records relating to placements including a readily accessible record of all Placement Providers it has worked with
  • It has contingencies in place for students who are unable to obtain, attend or complete a placement because of circumstances outside of their control
  • Placement provision is, at a minimum, annually monitored and reviewed by all parties involved to enable continuous feedback and enhancement

In additiona to these general principles, there are further principles that mist be adhered to, dependent on the type of placement, as outlined in the table below: 

Placement types and minimum requirements

Placement type Description  Paperwork and Process Monitoring/supervision

Company visits/insight days

A required part of a course intended to provide vocational context to courses or modules, and contribute to professional and organisational awareness

  • Accompanied by a member of staff

  • Observational activity – student is not engaging with workplace activity

  • Would normally take place within one day

The organiser must also follow the UEA Safety Services Fieldtrips Health and Safety requirements https://my.uea.ac.uk/divisions/health-and-safety-department/health-and-safety-requirements/fieldtrips

Accompanied visit

Fieldwork

A required part of a course intended for research purposes e.g. data collection, that takes place away from campus

Fieldwork is varied in nature (e.g. can be accompanied by a member of staff or unaccompanied; take place over a short or long period of time; in different locations with different exposures to risks; lone working or take place in a group environment. Particular attention should be paid to the nature of the fieldwork activity taking place and the oversight required by the School

The organiser must also follow the UEA Safety Services Fieldwork Health and Safety requirements https://my.uea.ac.uk/divisions/health-and-safety-department/health-and-safety-requirements/fieldwork

 

Work shadowing

Time spent in the workplace where a student observes work practice but the student is not participating in any work activity

  • Unaccompanied by a member of staff

  • Typically a short term activity

  • Placement student does not have any prescribed responsibilities or tasks within the workplace

  • Placement agreement

  • Confirmation of employer’s liability insurance and public liability insurance

  • Risk assessment,

  • Briefing to participating students

  • Placement student is assigned a supervisor/mentor in the organisation

  • Contact details shared between supervisor and placement organiser

  • Contact between placement student and placement organiser to offer ongoing support as needed

Work-based learning Projects

Activity in which students conduct project work, consultancy or similar activity on behalf of or in collaboration with a workplace/organisation, but the School retains responsibility for the student’s learning

  • May be some interaction with the workplace environment, although this will vary depending on the project

  • Project organiser to discuss any objectives for the host organisation

  • Project organiser to ensure that learning outcomes can be met

  • Placement agreement

  • Project approval (may require ethical approval)

  • Risk assessment proportionate to extent of time spent in the work environment

  • Confirmation of employer’s liability insurance and public liability insurance (if the placement is based on-site)

  • Project briefing to participating students

  • Placement student is assigned a project supervisor in the host organisation.

  • Role of supervisor to be agreed between all parties

Work experience placements

Placement activity whereby the student has agreed responsibilities and work tasks within the organisation but the student is also required to use the experience to fulfil module learning/assessment outcomes.

  • Unaccompanied by a member of staff

  • Length of placement may vary, and be voluntary, paid or unpaid

  • Placement agreement

  • Confirmation of employer’s liability insurance and public liability insurance

  • Risk assessment

  • Briefing to participating students

  • Workplace induction

  • Placement student is assigned a supervisor/mentor in the organisation

  • Contact details shared between the host supervisor and placement organiser

  • Contact between placement student and placement organiser to offer ongoing support as needed

 

International work experience

In addition to the requirements for work experience, the following must be adhered to for placements that take place abroad.

 

  • If equivalent insurance is not available in the host country, the School must contact UEA Insurance for advice

  • Confirmation of travel insurance

  • Consideration of any particular risks of discrimination and welfare should be taken into account

  • It is unlikely that a student can be visited on site during the placement. Therefore regular contact should be made between the placement organiser and the student to offer ongoing support as needed

Year in placement

A minimum of 6months spent in a workplace, fulfilling requirements for a ‘’Placement Year’ or ‘Year in Industry’

If the year in placement takes place abroad, the additional guidance provided for international work experience must be followed.

  • Workplace is student’s primary form of learning for the agreed period

  • Students may be required to complete a linked assessment, e.g. a self-reflection of the learning experience, to satisfy the degree requirements, professional accreditation or in order for an additional award to be conferred.

  • Placement agreement

  • Employment contract (where relevant)

  • School approval

  • Confirmation of employer’s liability insurance and public liability insurance

  • Risk assessment

  • Briefing/preparation for placement sessions

  • Workplace induction

  • Placement student is assigned a supervisor/mentor in the organisation

  • Placement student is assigned a supervising academic tutor

  • Academic tutor should visit the workplace at least once wherever possible, and have regular contact with the placement student. If a visit to the workplace is not possible, meetings should be held remotely.

  • Support given to students pre-placement to support the transition into the placement

  • Support given to students to re-integrate into their course following the placement.

Year/Semester Abroad

A period of study in a university abroad, fulfilling requirements for a “with a year abroad” or as part of a course requirement.

This may also include a combination of Study Abroad and international work experience

  • Students may be required to complete a linked assessment, e.g. a self-reflection of the learning experience, to satisfy the degree requirements, professional accreditation or in order for an additional award to be conferred.

  • Study abroad agreement

  • Briefing/preparation sessions

  • School approval

  • Risk assessment

  • Confirmation of travel insurance

  • If the activity involves a period of international work experience, the minimum standards set out in this policy apply.

  • Organisation of placement activity may overlap Study Abroad, School and Career Central. Responsibilities for each party must be identified and agreed.

  • Study Abroad coordinator will be assigned as the main contact for the student

  • Contact between placement student and placement organiser to offer ongoing support as needed

  • Support given to students pre-placement to support the transition into the placement

  • Support given to students to re-integrate into their course following the placement.

Practice Placement

Programmes which include industrial, practice, clinical or other placements as part of requirements leading to professional qualifications.

Practice placements may have requirements set by Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (PSRBs) over and above the minimum standards required in this policy. Such requirements supersede those set out in this policy, irrespective of how that placement might be defined. This may involve different procedures terminology as defined within this policy.

More specific responsibilities of each party are outlined in Section 6 of this policy. 

4. Risk Management

 

The University follows the recommendations outlined in the Universities Safety and Health Association’s (USHA) Guidance on Health and Safety of Placements for Higher Education Students (2018). Given the diversity of placements, a risk-based approach is adopted to minimise the requirements of low-risk placements in order to concentrate resources on higher risk placements. The University may decide not to approve a placement based on risk.

The risk management framework is composed of the following mandatory components:

4.1 Review and approval of placements

The following risk factors are applicable to all placements and must be considered as part of the risk assessment process:

  • Work factors: These relate to the Placement Provider and to the work that the Placement Student will be carrying out. They include the nature of the work-based hazards to which the student may be exposed. Control measures may include the professional knowledge and expertise of the student and the ethical approval process
  • Travel and transportation factors: Driving and travel while carrying out the business of the Placement Provider can be a risk. Placements do not just involve the work carried out for the Placement Provider. Depending on the nature and location of the placement, the Placement Student may face significant health, safety and welfare issues associated with their travel to and from the placement and to and from their accommodation
  • Location and/or regional factors: The location of the placement can have considerable impact, particularly if it is abroad in a country that the Placement Student is not acquainted with, though it could apply to international students enrolled at UEA and going on placement within the UK. Initial checks will need to include the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office website
  • Health and environmental factors: The student may face significant health, safety and welfare issues associated with the environmental conditions in their place of work or the general location, their accommodation, or their food and drink
  • Individual student factors: Each student is an individual. Their health, their knowledge, skills and experience and their personality could have an impact on health and safety in particular environments. A Placement Student who has personal factors (e.g. health, disability including mental health conditions, linguistic or cultural concerns) which may require specific adjustments or support should discuss this with their School as it may have implications for placement choice
  • Insurance limitations: Any assessment must include consideration of the extent and limitations of the insurance arrangements of the University and the Placement Provider, the contractual arrangements in place and the legal requirements in the country or countries where the placement will take place. It is useful to distinguish between those issues that can be considered by the University generally and those that are specific to a particular placement.

4.2 Processes for raising and resolving problems

Both the University and the Placement Provider are required to have processes in place by which Placement Students and Schools can raise their concerns in order that these may be appropriately addressed. The Placement Student should be encouraged to initially raise matters with their named contact at the Placement Provider. The Placement Student and the Placement Provider will also be informed about when, how and to whom to report their concerns to the University by the relevant School.

The School of Study should collect feedback from its Placement Students on any issues experienced during the placement and their resolution. This feedback will provide evidence that can be used to inform the School’s annual review of the Placement Provider.

4.3 Planning for contingencies

Schools are required to have contingency plans to cover exceptional circumstances, especially where the placement is abroad. All students will be given the details of who to contact in their School in the case of an emergency. A list of all such contacts must be maintained by each School.

Students will also be provided with a University telephone number and/or email to contact in an emergency.

4.4 Ensuring each party understands their roles and responsibilities

The School, the Placement Student and the Placement Provider should all have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities with regards to health and safety. This must be stated in writing.

Roles and responsibilities are covered in greater detail in section 6, and written agreements in section 10.

4.5 Preparation of students

All Placement Students will be briefed before they go on placement and will be provided with information about relevant risk factors and control measures so that they are in a position to understand the risks to their health and safety and can make informed judgements whilst on their placement.

4.6 Training of staff

Placement Directors must undertake institutional training on the relevant University policies (most especially the Policy on Placements), including Continuing Professional Development sessions, and the arrangements and risk assessments and reviews that they must follow. All other staff involved in organising and supporting student placements must read and comply with the policy.

Where possible a student on a placement should be visited at least once by an appropriate member of staff. Where a visit is not appropriate or possible, alternative forms of direct communication should be used (e.g., telephone or web-based means). For placements in high hazard work environments, the School should ensure that the staff members responsible for organising and supporting the placement, and visiting the place of work, have further training and/or experience of the environment to ensure that any recommendations arising from the risk assessment are met.

5. Course/module design and approval

 

It is the School’s responsibility, in liaison with the relevant University services, to ensure that all courses or modules that include a placement component are subject to appropriate approval processes. Accordingly, with the variety of placements, the practices and procedures contained in this Policy should be applied in a proportionate manner. Also, to help with capacity planning and management this should include consultation with those services when considering introducing a placement component. It is the responsibility of individual Schools that the placements they offer adhere to the following principles:

  • Placements should widen learning opportunities without prejudice either to the academic award being sought or the quality of what is being offered to the Placement Student. The University bears ultimate responsibility for the quality, academic standards and student experience of any placement
  • The University has a duty of care to all students on placement and must ensure that informed decisions are made with respect to health and safety issues relating to the placement
  • Placement Students remain registered at UEA whilst on placement and will receive ongoing support from the University as appropriate to their placement and course of study
  • Placements will be relevant to and supplement and develop the academic and vocational skills and competencies consistent with the overall aims of the Placement Student’s course of study
  • The introduction of new placements must be approved through usual course/module processes and must be monitored and reviewed as part of the University’s usual monitoring and review processes to ensure the quality and enhancement of the student experience and the continued appropriateness of the placement
  • The learning outcomes of any placement will be clearly identified and assessed appropriately (where relevant) by the relevant School
  • The University must comply with strict rules around placements for those on study visas, most notably Tier 4/Student visas, and the ongoing requirements for monitoring these students. Student Visa Compliance at UEA must be made aware of any new placements
  • The University cannot guarantee allocation to a particular Placement Provider
  • Clear and timely information and guidance will be available to all those involved in a placement activity.

Schools will ensure that all relevant University policies and procedures dealing with complaints and Fitness to Study/Practise issues are available to all relevant parties.

6. Responsibilities of other parties

 

In addition to the responsibilities of Schools, as set out in Section 3, Placement Students and Providers must meet the following expectations:

 

Placement Students are required to:

  • Read all placement information provided before the placement, engage with any briefing sessions and, where required, ensure that any necessary clearances and/or mandatory training have been satisfactorily undertaken. In the interests of the student's own health and safety, where they do not complete the pre-placement requirements for their course, they may be prevented from going on placement
  • Understand the learning outcomes of the placement
  • Provide contact details whilst on placement
  • Follow the policies and guidance of the Placement Provider relating to, for example, health and safety, research integrity, dress code, confidentiality requirements
  • Be mindful of their own health and safety
  • Be responsible for managing their conduct and behaviour
  • During the placement engage fully with all appropriate placement activities
  • Be responsive to the University’s and the Placement Provider’s requests for information
  • Familiarise themselves with any reporting mechanisms and use these to record any concerns with the Placement Provider and/or School support as necessary. Placement Students should also ensure that their point of contact in the School is informed of any special circumstances which may be impacting on their performance
  • Provide timely feedback on the placement when requested.

Responsibilities of the Placement Provider

Placement Providers are required to:

  • Have suitable health and safety arrangements in place
  • Have suitable insurance in place to cover liabilities arising from the placement (see section 12)
  • Provide details of the work/study programme to be undertaken by the Placement Student to the School
  • Provide the Placement Student with a clear induction programme to the Provider’s policies, working practices and environment
  • Provide the Placement Student with a named assessor/supervisor or mentor and their contact details
  • Facilitate, and where required participate in, any visits by the School
  • Report to the School any concerns about the Placement Student
  • Respond to any concerns raised by the School and/or Placement Student
  • Monitor the progress of the Placement Student as and where required to do so and provide feedback on the Placement Student’s performance
  • Engage in assessment as and where required to do so
  • If requested, provide an evaluation of the effectiveness and suitability of the placement itself.

7. Monitoring and Evaluation

 

All placements, courses and modules containing placements are subject to annual monitoring. As a minimum the following areas must be assessed:

  • That the University’s Policy on Placements is being fully complied with
  • Where relevant, that any additional requirements of Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Bodies are being met
  • The appropriateness of the placement’s educational aims, learning outcomes and modes of assessment.

To facilitate the review process the School will ensure that appropriate mechanisms are in place to seek and collate both formal and informal feedback from Placement Students, Placement Providers, and members of the University associated with the placement activity. Feedback from External Examiners should also be considered where relevant.

As part of any periodic review process, the course team will review the aims and learning outcomes of any placements to ensure that they remain appropriate. It may also be appropriate during such reviews to monitor success rates and, if possible, the effects on subsequent employment outcomes.

8. Equal opportunities and Inclusivity

 

All placements are subject to the education and employment provisions of the Equality Act 2010 which offers protection from discrimination or victimisation with respect to nine protected characteristics (age; gender reassignment; being married or in a civil partnership; being pregnant or on maternity leave; disability; race including caste, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin; religion or belief; sex; sexual orientation). In particular, it is the University’s responsibility to ensure equality of access and opportunity through suitable placement provision for those Placement Students with protected characteristics. Moreover, all placement provision should be designed and implemented in line with the UEA Inclusive Education Policy, and the UK Digital Accessibility requirements and Schools should take a proactive approach to ensure that all students, regardless of their backgrounds, are supported in preparation for and during any placement activity as part of their course.

Placement Providers within the UK are also subject to the Equality Act 2010 and (for public sector bodies) the UK Digital Accessibility requirements, they should be provided with information about individual Placement Students’ requirements (with the Placement Student’s explicit permission) in order to plan for their learning and support inclusion. Schools may need to work with Student Services to identify any equipment, adaptations and/or assistance that can be provided to help individual Placement Students with specific needs. Ultimately it is the School’s responsibility on behalf of the University to protect all its Placement Students from discrimination and ensure an inclusive approach to placements, and where this is not possible, the School may consider whether any relationship with the Placement Provider should be established or continued.

It is recognised that a School may wish to establish placement opportunities in countries with very different legal and cultural frameworks from the UK. If there is believed to be a substantial risk of discrimination or victimisation of certain groups of Placement Students, the School should not consider allocating them to these placements. Schools will need to assess this issue carefully and ensure, wherever possible, that students who are at risk will still have equitable access to suitable placement opportunities.

9. Approval of Placement Providers

 

All Placement Providers should wherever possible be approved by the appropriate School in advance of the commencement of the placement. The University encourages Schools to visit potential Placement Providers in order to assist with evaluating their suitability; a visit will not always be necessary or possible but must be conducted if there is doubt over the suitability of the provider.

In each case, the suitability of the Placement Provider will be assessed, taking risks into account. Schools should use a robust, fit-for-purpose procedure, proportionate to the complexity and nature of the activity and appropriate for their discipline. It is recognised that one procedure will not fit all types of placement. In each case, procedures must be clear, and visits or other forms of contact recorded.

As part of the approval process, Schools should consider the extent to which the Placement Provider aligns with the University’s values of Collaboration, Empowerment, Respect, Ambition and sustainability commitments of Net Zero UEA.

International placements may carry greater risk. Schools will need to consider how to meaningfully assess the quality and risk of particular Placement Providers given that information and tools available in the UK (for example site visits) may not be practical in this context.

10. Placement Agreement

 

The rights and responsibilities of each party to the placement (the School, the Placement Provider, and the Placement Student) will be clearly set out in writing. This agreement will be signed by an appropriate authority within the School and communicated to the Placement Provider before the start of the placement. The nature of the Placement Agreement may vary by School; a letter may be sufficient but Schools may wish to use more formal Agreements. The agreement will set out the minimum requirement for the placement and should be proportionate to the activity being undertaken.

11. Termination of Placement

 

If a placement is terminated prematurely, the terminating party must immediately inform the other parties. It is the responsibility of the relevant Course Director, in liaison with the Placement Director, to decide the possible outcomes and seek suitable remedies for the Placement Student(s) affected.

12. Insurance

 

The School will obtain confirmation of each Placements Provider’s insurance; this to include:

  • Public Liability – limit of Indemnity (minimum £5,000,000)
  • Employer’s Liability – limit of Indemnity (minimum £10,000,000)
  • Professional Indemnity – no recommended minimum.

The Placement Provider must provide confirmation that there is an equivalent policy or scheme in place which covers the Placement Student for the above. If the Placement Provider is unable to cover the Placement Student, or insists that liability should be transferred back to the University, or does not respond appropriately when requested, UEA Insurance must be contacted for advice.

13. Students with Tier 4/Student Visas

 

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) Sponsor Guidance states that a student studying on a Tier 4 or Student Visa can undertake a placement (including a placement abroad) providing it is an integral and assessed part of their course.

The School must ensure that current regulations are being followed prior to making any arrangements with a Placement Student who has a Tier 4/Student Visa and a Placement Provider. In such cases advice must be sought from the University’s Student Visa Compliance Team. The School must not give visa advice to any Placement Student.

If a placement is an integral and assessed part of the course and the Placement Provider assumes control of the student’s learning, this, together with an estimate of the percentage of the course that it represents, must be declared on the student’s Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) which is used by the student in making their visa application.

When a student undertakes a placement, the University is legally required to report to the UKVI the length of the placement and its precise location.

Students with a Tier 4/Student visa are subject to attendance and engagement monitoring requirements whilst on placement. The School must ensure, therefore, that arrangements are in place to register and record attendance and that regular contact is maintained between the School and the Placement Student. There must also be a named contact at the Placement Provider to confirm that the Placement Student is attending and engaging with their placement.

14. Appeals and Complaints

 

All appeals and complaints with regard to student placements will be dealt with according to existing University procedures. The appeals and complains procedures can be found on MyUEA.

If the Placement Student has concerns about the standards of practice adopted by the Placement Provider, they should initially contact the named contact within the School. Records must be kept of all complaints and the follow-up action. These must be reviewed as part of the annual monitoring process.