Business Process Review of Placements - update

The University began a Placements Business Process Review, with support from Southern Universities Management Services (SUMS) Consulting, in January 2012.

Phase I involved staff and students in a sequence of workshops. The Placements Project Board would like to thank all those involved in the workshops and other meetings. We valued your input and engagement with this project.

One of the outputs of the workshops was a set of principles underpinning the placement framework (for students entering from 2012 and undertaking placements from 2013 onwards), which were approved by Senate in June 2012:

  • All placements are integrated into their relevant degree programmes with clearly articulated learning outcomes which align with the overall programme’s aims and learning outcomes.
  • All of our placements are delivered within a robust, University quality-assured framework with appropriate support. The placement offering is designed to enhance students’ academic and employability outcomes, taking into account any professional requirements for the programme.
  • Integral to the whole placement experience is the development and maintenance of relationships between employers and the University. Excellent employer engagement is crucial within the key phases of the placement offer: pre-placement, on placement and post-placement.
  • There  is  a  consistent  baseline  level  of  support  offered  to  students  in preparation for their placement. Pre-placement support includes the development of employability skills, support with developing CVs and applications, training and support for interviews and assessment centres (if required), access to employment advice and placement employment opportunities, and support/advice from a placement team with knowledge of the employment market and opportunities. All students are provided with a briefing, a handbook (hardcopy or electronic) and advice prior to going on placement that clearly sets out the expectations, policies and assessment framework for the placement.
  • The placement takes place within a coherent framework of supervision, assurance and support. This ensures that the student’s placement provides an environment in which they can achieve their learning objectives and complies with necessary health and safety requirements.  The supervision and  support  framework includes  early  contact  with  the  student  on placement, reviewing the student’s objectives (often set by the employer), monitoring and reviewing progress, supporting the employer with a handbook of information, advice and guidance (as required), and normally undertaking a visit to review and advise on progress.
  • As an integral part of the student’s programme, the placement’s objectives and assessment align with overall programme aims and learning outcomes. Whilst the method of assessment varies from programme to programme, every placement includes an assessment designed to help the student reflect upon the learning outcomes achieved.
  • There is a managed transition from placement back into the University and programme. Effective re-integration includes providing the student with information  in  advance  of  returning  to  the  University  and  programme, feedback  on  their  placement  learning,  the  opportunity  to  share  their experience with other students, and access to careers advice to capitalise on their placement experience.

The Placements Project Board has developed a summary vision for placement development at the University:

The University will develop placements within a shared strategic institutional agenda. The academic lead for placements, Dr Fran Laughton, will lead the development of placements from within a strong community of placement staff, both administrative and academic. The aims are: to enhance the experience of placement students; to improve the co-ordination of placement support across the University; and to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of our placements business processes.

Phase II of the project is already underway, a small implementation group (with representatives from Faculties/School placement and administrative staff, the academic community, the Careers Advisory Service, and the Students’ Union) under the leadership of Dr Fran Laughton, in her role as academic lead on placements, has been set up. Four workstreams have been established which focus on areas identified during the Phase I discussions:

Workstream 1, led by Ann-Marie Hartland, members: Lucie Pursell, Alison Ukleja, Ben Smith, Clare Wilson and Louise Oliver:

Common templates for health & safety checks, risk assessment, induction checklist, placement handbook, placement objectives and learning outcomes, visit form/guidance.

Workstream 2, led by Ben Smith, members: Sean Cumming, Laura Lawrence, Alison Ukleja and Maggie Ward-Goodbody:

Proposals for common institutional framework of placement preparation.

Workstream 3, led by Amanda Harper, members: Ghislaine Del, John Howell, Louise Oliver and Clare Wilson:

Development of Institutional Information Systems for Placements.

Workstream 4, led by Diane Hay, members: Sabina Gheduzzi, Ben Smith, Mary Mears and Gavin Maggs:

Development of recommendations for a more coordinated approach to the University's engagement with placement employers (including placement visits), supported by improved information for employers.

Workstream 1 met regularly over the summer and made good progress in producing common templates to reduce duplication and ensure consistency across the University. Many of the workstream’s outputs are now in place for the new academic year. The work of the other three workstreams is on-going, and the workstream leaders would be happy to hear from any staff and students who would like to feed ideas into their discussions.

The Placements Project Board:

Professor Bernie Morley, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching), (Chair)
Alison Price, Academic Registrar
Ben Smith, Chair of the Placements Tutors’ Forum
Dr Fran Laughton, Chair of the Careers & Employability Subcommittee
Ann-Marie Hartland, Director of Administration, Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences
Alex Wright, Associate Dean Learning & Teaching, Faculty of Engineering & Design
Alex Pool, Vice President Education, Students’ Union
Dr Harriet Dunbar-Morris, Executive Assistant (Learning & Teaching)
Bridget Conneally, Executive Assistant to the Academic Registrar

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