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Institutional and Departmental Policies and Procedures

In this section:

The University’s Health and Safety Policy and Guidance on Student Placements defines placement learning as:

‘A period of work or study experience, paid or unpaid,:

  • which is undertaken as an integral part of the student’s course; and
  • where the student is enrolled at the University during this period; and
  • where there is the transfer of supervision of the student to a third party.’

The following risk management principles must be applied to student placements:

  • clarity of understanding by each party of their roles and responsibilities
  • preparation of the student such that they are in a position to understand the risks and to make informed judgements
  • there are processes for enabling problems to be raised and resolved prior to, during the course of, and at the conclusion of the placement
  • there are contingency plans in case there are exceptional circumstances

Guidance on the how this can be achieved as an integral part of the placement process is provided in the section on 'Health and Safety in the Placement Process - Guidance for Placement Learning Co-ordinators' which describes what is required by the University in approving placements, preparing students for placement, and supporting the students in terms of their health and safety on placement both in the UK and overseas.

The Health and Safety Policy and Guidance also includes useful information on risks and liabilities, and insurance matters.

The University approves, monitors and reviews placement learning through the course approval process, Annual Course Review and Periodic Review. Responsibility for the organisation of placement learning activities at the University rests with departments, supported by the International Office as appropriate, which co-hosts preparatory briefings, assists students applying to overseas universities and acts as a contact point for students studying abroad.

The University requires Departments to set out their proposals for new placement learning opportunities in Part 3 of the course approval documentation. Departments should establish procedures and criteria for the approval of individual placement opportunities and to meet the requirements of relevant statutory regulatory, professional or funding bodies. Click here for further information relating to course approval, monitoring and review.

Some departments have a departmental committee with responsibility for the placement learning activities, which is able to address issues and introduce policies at an operational level; for example the Institute of Education has established school review and partnership steering groups.

Criteria for the approval of individual placement opportunities

The University expects that departments will establish relationships with organisations or departments whose missions and national or international standing are comparable to its own. Departments should determine that that the placement provider is able to:

1. Provide learning opportunities which enable the intended learning outcomes to be achieved. These learning outcomes should be identifiable.

2. Support students during their placement.

3. Fulfil their responsibilities under health and safety legislation in the workplace, having regard to the level of skill and experience of placement students.

In addition, departments should attempt to assess the academic facilities at a partner institution, such as library and computing provision, academic accommodation and teaching facilities and facilities for students with special needs.

The Institute of Education's Handbook for Training in Schools sets out criteria for placement selection on the Initial Teacher Training courses, including the following characteristics;

  • A clearly stated commitment to working in partnership with the University to provide newly qualified teachers of high calibre, and to enhancing teachers' professional development through their involvement in ITT. The School Development Plan should include development of its role as a training establishment.
  • The provision of supportive placements which trainees and tutors rate highly. The placement provider should also provide school experience reports and classroom observations of high quality.
  • A commitment to providing a Mentor who is in a position to lead other staff in supporting trainees, who attends professional training as required, and who is committed to the development and evaluation of ITT programmes in partnership with the University.

The Department of History takes into account a partner institution's competence in the area of visiting foreign students, in addition to academic standing, when establishing a placement arrangement.

Responsibilities of Placement Providers 

Work-based or placement providers should be encouraged to play an active role in the opportunities provided for the student. To support them in this role they need clear information from the Departments about the objectives of the work-based or placement learning, their particular roles and responsibilities, the nature and scope of the activity involved and how responsibilities are to be fulfilled. They will benefit from guidance about their involvement in the procedures for the monitoring of the progress of students and mechanisms for reporting to the awarding institution at the end of the work-based or placement learning opportunity.

A work-based or placement provider may be involved in providing a mentoring or supervising role. The responsibilities of these important roles need to be clearly identified and any training for the mentor or supervisor provided before the student begins the opportunity.

It is good practice to inform the work-based or placement provider about visits from the academic or support staff, and any change(s) in the student's circumstances, in advance of the experience commencing.

Work-based or placement providers find it helpful to have clear information about action to be taken if they are no longer able to offer a work-based or placement learning opportunity or if they have any kind of problem or complaint concerning the conduct of the student.

Once a placement provider has been deemed an appropriate partner for Warwick, there are three main areas of responsibility of which placement providers need to be aware:

Provision of learning opportunities

Once the level and content of modules and workload is established with a partner institution, it is necessary to ensure that students have access to the modules they require for their degrees. This is especially true where the year abroad constitutes an entire year of registrations for a Warwick degree. Departments must consider the level and content of modules offered by proposed partners and accessibility of modules to Warwick students, particularly when certain Learning Outcomes must be achieved as part of the placement.

The European Credit Transfer Scheme (ECTS), used by the Law School, Warwick Business School (International Business) and the Departments of Engineering, Chemistry and Computer Science require a ‘Learning Agreement’ (Annex A) to be drawn up between both institutions prior to a student’s departure. This lists the modules which the student has chosen; confirms that the home institution considers these modules to be appropriate and that the placement provider guarantees their availability. A Learning Agreement forms a useful safeguard for students and should be seen as a model for placements wherever possible. Departments should make it clear in Study Abroad Handbooks that all module choices must be approved by the student’s academic department at Warwick where credit is to be awarded for the work undertaken by students on placement.

In the Department of German Studies, where a student has him/herself organised a full year work placement, the department requires an assurance from the placement provider that the student will be taken on (i.e. contract or informal agreement) as well as information about salary and accommodation. Full-year placements are subject to departmental approval to ensure the placement is deemed 'career-enhancing’.

The School of Health and Social Studies involves placement providers for the MA & Diploma in Social Work in a three-way meeting to discuss contents of the Working Agreement, which sets out details of the placement including induction activities and working hours. Learning objectives, procedures for dealing with difficulties and complaints, workload, supervision and assessment requirements and dates for submission of work and future meetings are discussed at this meeting.

The School of Theatre Studies offers support to MA in European Cultural Policy and Administration students arranging placements through the provision of a sample contract document to enable students to negotiate their own contract with the placement provider.

The Department of Biological Sciences requires Intercalated Year placements to provide a suitable research element, which is ensured by Warwick tutors evaluating the project and the work undertaken by the student during the placement.

The Institute of Education negotiates a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the student and placement provider to define the purpose of the placement, learning outcomes and the trainee's and placement provider’s entitlements.

In instances where students organise their own placement, it is important that the student is aware of the level of support available from the department for securing the placement and the learning outcomes they must meet whilst on the placement.

Role of placement providers in assessment

Although an evaluation of the student by the placement provider may not contribute to degree credit, it has been identified by many professional and statutory bodies as a required aspect of a student’s professional development and as useful in terms of personal development.

For Institute of Education Initial Teacher Trainees, a Training Record sets out what the trainee has done and achieved, the training received and ways in which progress has been assessed.

Language Assistants in France and Germany receive an evaluation report from the school in which they have taught. Those on other work placements are encouraged to ask their manager for a report on their time with the company.

Placement organisations accepting School of Theatre Studies MA in European Cultural Policy and Administration students following the Placement and Case Study module must submit a report on the student’s work.

The Department of Computer Sciences asks a student's manager or tutor for a brief report on work done by the student whilst on placement.

The Warwick Business School provides module leaders at partner institutions in the U.S. and Canada with an evaluation form (Annex B)for Warwick students, which seeks comment on a student’s comparative performance and any feedback on essays, practical work, discussion and examinations.

Health and Safety of Students

Guidance on the roles and responsibilities of placement providers is provided in Health and Safety in the Placement Process – Guidance for Placement Learning Co-ordinators, Step 1, Clarifying expectations with the placement provider.