Work placements and projects
Scope of the policy and its linkage with related policies and guidelines
For this Work Placement and Project Policy (WPPP), which applies to both onsite (physically present on the business’s premises) and remote WPs and CPBs, the University has adopted the Quality Assurance Agency’s definition of work based and placement learning as outlined in its UK Quality Code for Higher Education Advice and guidance for Work-Based Learning:
“Work-based learning: This involves learning through work, learning for work and/or learning at work. It consists of authentic structured opportunities for learning which are achieved in a workplace setting or are designed to meet an identified workplace need. This type of learning typically has a dual function of being designed to meet the learning needs of the employees, developing their knowledge, skills and professional behaviours, and also meeting the workforce development needs of the organisation. Work-based learning is, therefore, learning which is distinguished from work-related or simulated learning activity that has not been formulated or commissioned by, or in partnership with, employer to address a current workforce need.”
UK Quality Code for Higher Education, Advice and Guidance, Work-based Learning. November 2019, page 1
For the purpose of this policy, Work Placements will be referred to as ‘WPs’ and Collaborative Projects with Business as ‘CPBs’. While CPBs are based on the principles of the Making the Most of Masters (MMM) project, they include other opportunities for students to collaborate with businesses e.g. honours projects, group consultancy projects with business and undergraduate projects.
A WP is time students spend with a business or an organisation, onsite or remotely, to learn and gain insight into a sector and complete a designated piece of work or a role. This is typically referred to as work-based learning. There may be many reasons for undertaking a placement. Some examples are:
- to put teaching and learning undertaken at University into the context of the workplace;
- to learn more about a particular business, perhaps the students’ chosen industry for their anticipated future career;
- to gain practical 'on the job' training or experience,
The structure and timing of the placement and activities undertaken will vary depending on the module and the organisation, and is usually agreed in discussion with the placement supervisor. Hours will vary depending on the course requirements.
A CPB is a piece of work undertaken by students e.g. a dissertation or consultancy project, in conjunction with an organisation. The term ‘business’ refers to all sizes and types of external organisations: public, private, third sector. The CPB is assessed as part of the degree programme and is designed to meet identified learning outcomes.
WPs and CPBs can be delivered in a wide variety of ways and defined differently within an academic programme: short term; extended; part-time, full-time; paid, unpaid; credit bearing or not credit bearing; work-based onsite or remote; practice placement or internship. A WP or a CPB that is not part of an academic programme or credit bearing, for example part-time work which students organise themselves, falls outside the remit of this policy.
The general term work-based learning will be referred to as WBL.
In the pre-placement check list, risk assessment and project agreement forms, there is a differentiation as to whether the WP or CBP is:
- ‘Onsite’ - the student is based on site at the business premises
- ‘Remote’ all meetings, information sharing during the WP or CPB are conducted remotely, including when undertaking field work only, online or at a distance. This opportunity will still permit meetings to take place online to exchange information, review progress and make presentations;
- Hybrid, blended approach, there may be a blended approach, e.g. the placement or project may be largely remote, however the student may be expected to attend an onsite induction or presentation.
It is recognised that the way in which a WP or a CPB is organised and managed, will vary according to specific module and programme aims, learning outcomes and assessment strategies. Vocational programmes, such as those in nursing, social work or education may be subject to additional and specific requirements for external or professional body compliance. The table below outlines what is covered by this policy. All other non-credit bearing internships (onsite and remote) are covered by the Careers and Employability Service (CES) vacancy handling policy.
Table 1 - Work based placement and collaborative project learning opportunities covered by this policy
Credit bearing WP courses: WP learning embedded into and assessed through a module. WP learning may be an optional or a compulsory element of a programme and could be work-based onsite or remote
Credit bearing WPs out with semester: Placement learning embedded into and assessed through a module. Such placement learning may be an optional or a compulsory element of a programme and could be work-based onsite or remote
Credit bearing Collaborate Projects with Business PGT (Including Dissertations) Remote projects or projects meeting an external need not necessarily based in an external environment are included.
Credit bearing Collaborate Projects with Business UG (Including Dissertations) Remote projects or projects meeting an external need not necessarily based in an external environment are included.
Credit bearing Group Projects – Credit bearing consultancy projects delivered by a group of students with outputs and outcomes for both the students and the business. Remote projects or projects meeting an external need not necessarily based in an external environment are included.
Professional WPs that form part of the degree programme and are associated with the assessment of professional competency within a statutory or regulated profession (Teaching, Nursing, Social Work)
Student sourced WPs and CPBs that are credit bearing for all of the above
The delivery of Graduate Apprenticeships (GAs) should follow the principles of this policy, however, separate guidelines will be developed to shape and monitor GAs. The University must adhere to regulations set by Skills Development Scotland in relation to quality, compliance, tracking and best practice. (See separate GA guidelines on located on GA Canvas site)
The Policy links closely to key institutional policy and guideline documents: the ‘Off Campus Activities Policy’ (in draft July 2020); and the Ethics process and decision tree, and should be used in conjunction with these documents when appropriate. The decision tree in Appendix 1 guides staff to choose the relevant action associated with these policy and guideline documents.
An Equalities Impact Assessment (EIA) has been conducted for this policy. Specific guidelines relating to equalities issues have been integrated into this policy and actions arising that relate to wider university polices and procedure have been have been captured in the EIA.
In line with the UK Quality Code for Higher Education Advice and guidance for Work-Based Learning, the University’s key principles on WPs and CPBs are:
- To ensure that WPs and CPBs are designed and developed in partnership with business, students and stakeholders
- That WPs and CPBs contain learning outcomes that align with module outcomes and where relevant, business objectives and ensure a high-quality experience for all
- To undertake due diligence before a student undertakes a WP or CBP
- To ensure that students are equipped and prepared to undertake and manage WPs and CPBs onsite and/or in a remote environment
- To effectively manage the risks associated with off campus learning or remote arrangements
- To monitor WP and project management systems regularly and to keep clear and comprehensive records
- To have in place formal written agreements that clarify the responsibilities and expectations of each party (student, University, WPs and business provider) (remote or onsite)
- To remain responsible for academic standards and the quality of provision leading to academic awards, regardless of where the student learning is taking place
- To ensure that WPs and CPBs enhance the student’s learning experience and contribute to the development of their employability
- To have an appropriate number of suitable staff to fulfil the requirements of WP and CPB supervision
- To meet the requirements of any relevant professional, statutory and regulatory bodies as articulated in approved programme documentation
- To ensure that opportunities are inclusive and that the needs of disabled students are considered. That reasonable adjustments are in place, which meet the requirements outlined in relevant legislation
- To ensure that the WP or CPB is evaluated and reviewed in collaboration with the business and student to guarantee a cycle of continuous improvement