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Executive Summary

The Good Practice Guide on Placement Learning identifies examples of good practice in the establishment and management of placement learning activities and highlights specific examples of particularly effective methods of enhancing placement learning. The Guide is not intended to be definitive, especially in light of the diversity of placement learning opportunities offered across the University. It does, however, apply to all courses falling within the QAA’s definition of placement learning, which includes:

  • Intercalated years for work or study (optional and mandatory)
  • Study abroad (departmental exchange or ERASMUS)
  • Work-based learning and professional experience (UK or abroad)
  • Industrial and clinical experience placements (UK or abroad)
  • Experiential learning

There are three parties to any placement: the placement provider, the student, and the University. It is important that each party should have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities.

The University has Health and Safety Policy and Guidance that is designed to reduce the likelihood of injuries or ill health arising from placements. This policy and the supporting guidance for placement learning co-ordinators encourages a risk-based and risk management approach that can be applied to all student placements; allowing a lighter touch on placements with relatively low risks and more rigorous control measures where the risks are greater. The application of these arrangements should encourage students to learn how to assess and manage risk. Departments should check that their written and oral advice to students is aligned with this Guidance.

The University approves, monitors and reviews placement learning through the course approval process, Annual Course Review and Periodic Review. Departments proposing new courses incorporating placement learning opportunities or seeking substantial amendments to the structure of such a course must complete Parts 1 & 3 of the course approval documentation for approval by the relevant University committees.

Departments are responsible for the organisation of placement learning, supported by the International Office as appropriate. This includes establishing procedures and criteria for the approval of individual placement opportunities and meeting the requirements of relevant statutory regulatory, professional or funding bodies.

There are two main areas of responsibility of which placement providers need to be aware; the provision of appropriate learning opportunities to ensure that students have access to the modules they require for their degrees, the assessment of the students’ placement learning activities and the health and safety of the student. A Learning Agreement, which lists the modules the student has chosen, confirms that the home institution considers these modules to be appropriate and that the placement provider guarantees their availability, forms a useful safeguard for students and should be seen as a model for placements undertaken in other education institutions.

Regardless of the form placement learning takes, departments need to consider the contribution that placement learning makes to the overall aims of the course and course learning outcomes when designing, approving, monitoring and reviewing the course and when designing and implementing the associated assessment strategy. Any assessment of placement learning should be subject to the usual departmental procedures for internal moderation and external examining, and standards applied to the assessment of placement learning must be consistent with Subject Benchmark Statements and other reference points, such as the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications.

Prior to students embarking on a placement, departments should ensure that they are made aware of their rights and responsibilities. Students should be provided with appropriate guidance and support in preparation for, during and after their placements, including information on the financial implications of a placement and sources of pastoral support whilst on placement. Whenever possible, guidance to students should be developed in consultation with placement providers. All students should be made aware of the University’s Academic Complaints procedure which can be used vis-à-vis any aspect of the teaching and learning process and University provision to support teaching and learning.

Departments should ensure that members of academic staff involved in placement learning are competent to fulfil their role. Departments are encouraged to ensure that documentation covering the departmental role is available and that adequate handover between staff takes place when departmental responsibilities change.

The Academic Quality and Standards Committee has instituted an annual meeting be held of staff involved in managing placement learning in departments, to discuss issues which have arisen during the year, to identify solutions to difficulties where appropriate and to develop good practice at institutional level.