9.9 Work-based Learning (WBL) and Student Placements


1.  Work-based learning (WBL) means learning that has normally been achieved through paid or unpaid work, which can be assessed at HE level and contributes to the award of an Aberystwyth University (AU) credit. This section of the AQH relates to study schemes and modules that include opportunities for work-based learning.

2.  The aim of including WBL as part of a scheme or module is to enable students to gain meaningful experiences in a setting that will promote the enhancement of career prospects. In all cases students should be sure that whatever experience is undertaken will add to their skill set and enable application of what is being studied on the course.

3.  AU is committed to working with employers to ensure WBL is attractive to students and enables the student to meet the learning outcomes of their scheme / module by pursuing WBL. The following guidelines are designed to:

(i) Set out a proportionate approach to the management of work-based learning through a Formal Agreement.

(ii) Ensure that appropriate procedures are in place to provide work-based learning of high quality that assures the student experience and meets the learning outcomes at scheme or module level.

(iii) Clarify  the  responsibilities  and  rights  of  the  employer,  University  and  student  when  a student is on placement.

Oversight of Work-based Learning

4.  For any study scheme containing work-based learning, the approval process should address this aspect of the course to assure quality, standards and the student experience. Learning outcomes should be clearly identified, assessed appropriately and contribute to the aims of the scheme within an appropriate work-based learning context.

5.  The WBL element of a course will be reviewed as part of the Annual Monitoring of Taught Schemes (AMTS1 form), to reported to Faculty Academic Affairs Committees. A Faculty summary will be submitted to Academic Board.

Proportionate Management of WBL

6.  The University has a responsibility not to place students knowingly into an unsafe environment. As a minimum, Faculties should ensure that WBL providers have appropriate insurance and risk assessments in place and should ensure that students are aware of any particular risks associated with WBL in advance of the placement.  As a minimum requirement, students should be advised of the level and nature of supervision and support from both the University and WBL providers that they can expect during their WBL. It is recognised that while visiting a student on a placement represents best practice for assessing the students’ progress and the continued suitability of a WBL opportunity, this may not be practical to achieve for every student, especially for overseas or short WBL opportunities. Staff should monitor the student’s progress, whether by visiting the student or through remaining in contact via electronic means, at intervals appropriate to the length of the WBL.

7.  The planning, preparation and management of WBL activity will vary according to the nature and length of the placement and it is expected that procedures for managing year-long WBL activity will be more extensive than those in place for much shorter placements.

Student responsibilities

8.  Departments can either place students in a work place of their choice or allow the student to choose their own placement. If the student is permitted to identify a suitable placement for the work-based learning element of the course, departments must provide guidance on the suitability of the placement for meeting the learning outcomes of the module/course.

9.  Before they begin a placement, students are required to:

(i) Complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check if necessary for the type of placement undertaken. The student will hold this and also submit a copy to the scheme co-ordinator. If there are any convictions they must be discussed with the co-ordinator. The student must make the placement provider aware of any issues from the DBS check.

(ii) Undertake an initial visit to the placement provider where possible, to explain placement requirements and expected learning outcomes.

(iii) Discuss with the placement provider how the placement will fulfil the learning outcomes and explain any assessment requirements.

(iv) Provide the placement provider with a Placement Agreement setting out the requirements. The agreement must be signed by the placement provider and three copies made: one to be kept by the placement provider; one to be kept by the student; one to be returned by the student to the Faculty.

(v) Submit placement details, Placement Agreement and agreed learning outcomes to the Faculty for approval prior to the placement commencing.

During the placement the student will be required to adhere to the Academic Regulation on Academic Progress and the detailed requirements at scheme/module level. Where applicable, students must also comply with Fitness to Practise requirements.

Placement provider responsibilities

10.  When arranging placements, providers should be aware that they will need to provide a designated supervisor/point of contact. The role of the placement supervisor will be to:

(i) Work with the student to ensure the learning outcomes of the module are met by the placement.

(ii) Meet with the student on a regular basis to check on progress and discuss any issues.

(iii) Ensure that appropriate induction and training are provided, including health and safety.

(iv) Act as first point of contact for any problems or queries during the placement.

(v) Provide feedback on progress at the end of the placement by completing the Student Placement Report Form.

(vi) Provide feedback on the management of the placement by completing the Employer Feedback Form.

(vii) To provide feedback from the supervisor on completion of the required number of hours in practice.

(viii) Liaise with the course co-ordinator should any problems arise during the placement

(see Issues Resolution flowchart).

11.  While on placement, students can expect:

(i) Support from a designated supervisor/point of contact whose role is to advise on the work that is being undertaken.

(ii) An appropriate health and safety briefing so that they are familiar with the procedures and requirements of the organisation in which they are working.

(iii) To work in a safe environment.

(iv) To be treated with respect.

(v) To be fully informed about responsibilities, including those contained in any statutory legislation and/or honorary contract.

(vi) To receive feedback from the supervisor on completion of the required number of hours in practice.

(vii) Where appropriate, to be fully trained in any unfamiliar practices that they are asked to undertake.

(viii) To have access to the Issues Resolution procedure (see flowchart below).

Faculty responsibilities

12.  Faculties have a responsibility to ensure that all students are prepared adequately for WBL with a pre-placement programme and work-based learning outcomes which:

(i) are clearly identified;

(ii) support students in recognising and applying for appropriate placements;

(iii) contribute to the overall aims of the course;

(iv) are assessed appropriately;

(v) reinforce the transferability and broader relevance of the experience.

13.  In addition to ensuring academic rigour, Faculties will be responsible for the following:

(i) A member of university staff will be identified as the leader for the work-based learning element of the course and this staff member will be the initial point of contact.

(ii) Negotiating ‘reasonable adjustments with the placement provider in the case of a student assessed as having a specific need, ensuring that placements are inclusive, safe and supported.

(iii) There will be clearly defined points of contact and lines of communication with the placement provider. This will include opportunities for the placement provider and student to:

    • raise concerns, or complaints about any aspect of the placement, including an individual student's performance or conduct
    • make suggestions about how the placement activity could be improve

14.  Students will receive pre-placement briefings prior to commencement of any placement, in addition to suitable reflective activity on their return, to reinforce the relevance of the WBL to their academic progression.

15.  WBL learning opportunities will be designed, monitored, evaluated and reviewed in partnership with employers. Students, employers and other stakeholders will have formal opportunities to provide feedback. Faculties will have oversight of WBL records, and will receive annual reports as part of the Annual Monitoring of Taught Schemes (AMTS), to be reported to the Collaborative Provision Board.


Chapter reviewed: August 2023