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Policy on Work Based Learning and Placement Management

1     INTRODUCTION

UEL increasingly recognises the importance of work-based and placement learning and its current and potential future impact on the way in which students learn.

This policy is intended to be a general policy which gives guidance on the minimum requirements prior to the commencement of work-based or placement learning, but the method by which this is achieved can be adapted to suit the needs of an individual UEL School or collaborative partner.  The policy is supported by guidance notes on, for example, Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks or health and safety, and examples of good practice, such as student placement handbooks.

Please note that where reference is made in the policy to UEL or UEL Schools, this also applies to any of its collaborative partners.

The policy has been informed by the QAA Quality Code, Chapter B10: Managing Higher Education Provision with others - December 2012.

2   SCOPE OF THE POLICY

This policy relates to any situation where a student works or studies in an approved non-UEL location, whether in the UK or overseas, and where their work or placement situation contributes towards learning outcomes of their programme of study.

We define work-based learning to mean any learning which takes place in a workplace which is directly relevant and contributes to students meeting relevant learning outcomes. Work-based learning may be paid or unpaid. It does not apply to any employment undertaken outside of a programme of study which does not contribute towards the meeting of learning outcomes.

We define a placement to mean a period of study undertaken outside the institution which could be either in a work or educational context.  A placement could be a block of work undertaken on a PGCE programme, a year in industry on a sandwich programme, or a semester or more in a European Union University or time on a study abroad scheme. This could be a period of study organised by the University or student may have organised themselves, but is approved by the University. –

There should be at least one named contact for each placement (referred to as the Placement Coordinator in this policy), although some schools may prefer to have a number of named contacts dealing with different elements of the work-based learning or placement experience.

Please note that the word ‘placement’ is used to refer to any work-based learning situation which falls within the scope of the policy.

3     APPROVAL OF PLACEMENT PROVIDERS

The placement coordinator or, if relevant, admissions tutor, should satisfy themselves that each placement provider, whether allocated by UEL or independently found by the student, is suitable.  Procedures for securing, approving and allocating placements should be transparent to all, and take into account, as a minimum:

  • the suitability of the placement to allow students to successfully meet the learning outcomes of the placement;
  • health and safety requirements;
  • any relevant professional, statutory or regulatory body (PSRB) requirements governing the suitability of placements;
  • student support on placements, including the mechanisms for dealing with any problems or complaints;
  • depending on the length of the placement and whether the placement is with a UK business or local authority school, checks on the legal status, financial stability of the placement provider should be undertaken.

Information should be given to students on the consequences of failure to either secure or complete a placement.

Procedures should be established to allow students to complete any work-based learning or placement requirements in cases where the placement needs to be terminated early by one of the parties involved. 

4     ROLE OF PLACEMENT PROVIDERS

The placement coordinator should make placement providers aware of their responsibilities in relation to:

  • the provision of learning opportunities;
  • their role in relation to the mentoring of students, and, if applicable, the assessment of students;
  • the health and safety of students, including provision of any specialist materials or clothing needed;
  • their responsibility in relation to insurance cover in the event of accident;
  • their responsibility for making reasonable adjustments for students with a disability;
  • any obligation to attend any meetings concerning the placement, or provide a report on the placement;
  • any changes in a student’s circumstances either before commencement of or during the placement.

A signed pro-forma or contract confirming that the necessary requirements are in place at the provider is needed for each placement.

5     STUDENT RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

The placement coordinator should ensure that students are made aware of:

  • their responsibilities in relation to the programme of study which the placement makes up part of;
  • their responsibilities for managing their behaviour as representatives of UEL;
  • their responsibilities in relation to health and safety issues;
  • their need to remain in contact with the placement coordinator in order to provide feedback on progress;
  • their entitlement in relation to tutoring or mentoring;
  • the need to alert the placement provider and placement coordinator to any problems with the placement that may impede their satisfactory progress and completion of the placement;
  • the ability of the placement provider to raise any issues with the placement coordinator regarding the student’s suitability to practice;
  • their need to comply with PSRB requirements, if appropriate;
  • the formal UEL complaint procedure;
  • any information relating to intellectual property rights, if relevant.

6     STAFFING

Schools and services should ensure that all UEL staff involved in placements are made aware of any relevant issues relating to the identification and approval of placement opportunities, and provide training if required.

Schools and services should also ensure that staff at placement providers receive any additional training required, including any orientation to UEL procedures or policy, which may impact on their role in the placement setting.

7     MONITORING AND EVALUATION OF PLACEMENTS

All placements should be subject to effective monitoring procedures.  These should include as a minimum:

  • UEL placement coordinators should ensure that feedback from students is collected both during the placement and on completion of the placement.
  • Analysis of the placements should take place as part of the annual monitoring process (REP) for programmes and fields.
  • Placement coordinators should ensure that feedback is collected from placement providers, perhaps by means of a focussed employers group, and from any other UEL staff connected to placements.
  • School Quality Standing Committees should receive an updated spreadsheet listing proposed placements to ascertain that relevant checks have been carried out and where appropriate, that signed agreements exist.