UNIVERSITY OF GLOUCESTERSHIRE UNDERGRADUATE MODULAR SCHEME Termination procedures for a Work-based learning placement 1. Introduction
1.1 The University of Gloucestershire is committed to providing a high quality educational experience, fully supported by a range of academic and administrative services and facilities. In the case of a Work-based learning (WBL) placement as part of an academic programme of studies, the University, provider of a WBL placement and student have specific roles and responsibilities towards one another. These are normally presented via a learning contract (sometimes termed a learning agreement), and for some WBL placements may be covered by an employment contract. Such contracts are formally signed and agreed before the commencement of a WBL placement. 1.2 Concerns related to a WBL placement should always be addressed initially, through an informal approach, at the local level. For example, any concern should first be discussed with the module tutor/WBL placement tutor and line manager at work. Should this approach fail to resolve the matter then the following formal termination procedures should be used. 1.3 For collaborative programmes undertaken in or with a partner institution, but where academic authority lies with the University, a variation of the following procedure may exist. However, the procedures should meet the University's general principles governing termination, and should be in line with the Precepts of the QAA's Code of Practice for Work based and placement learning. 1.4 The document contains generic termination procedures. Courses and programmes of study with particular professional standards and requirements are advised to provide supplementary material. Any additions or alterations should not contradict the content of this document. 2. 2.1 Principles The principles underpinning these procedures are that they: reflect principles of natural justice are transparent and involve timely resolution of a termination include procedures for independent review and decision making encourage the resolution of the termination at a local level
2.2 The Quality Assurance Agency's Code of Practice for Work-based and placement learning notes that: 'It is, however, sometimes necessary for one or more of the partners to terminate an agreement. Awarding institutions [the University] need to have policies and procedures in place to cover such eventualities. These include the provision of guidance and support for the student in such circumstances, and identification of how the student will be able to continue with their programme of study and have the opportunity to demonstrate the required learning outcomes. Such policies and procedures should be agreed at the outset of any partnership providing work-based and placement learning opportunities’. 2.3 Information about any individual involved in termination procedures will be dealt with confidentially and privacy respected. However, it may be necessary to disclose information to
others in order to deal with the termination and in these circumstances the parties concerned will be informed of such disclosure. 2.4 Whoever initiates formal termination procedures will not suffer any disadvantage or discrimination as a result of taking such action in good faith. However, if such action is judged to have been made frivolously, vexatiously or with malice, disciplinary action may be taken against the student or University employee. In the case of the provider, the University will undertake to discuss the matter with the appropriate managers of the organisation to determine if any further action should be taken. 3. 3.1 Advice and Guidance Independent, non-judgemental advice on these procedures is available from: Student Helpzones; the Head of Student Services; the Academic Registrar who can advise students on the operation of the procedures; University Harassment Contacts Officers of the Students' Union who can provide support for students who are considering initiating termination procedures.
3.2 Other student-related policies and procedures, such as the Whistleblowing policy, may be pertinent and should be consulted. 4. Grounds for termination
4.1 Termination implies that the WBL placement needs to be curtailed. It does not cover the suspension of a WBL placement, if a student or provider needs to suspend the period of WBL this requires different and specific procedures. Suspension is normally due to major mitigating circumstances or extenuating circumstances preventing a student or provider from continuing with the WBL placement. 4.2 Termination should be viewed as the case of last resort. Termination is a serious issue and rigorous and clearly documented material will be required to support any termination procedures. Termination will most probably have a major impact on to a student’s programme of studies and it can damage the working relationship between a provider and the University. 4.3 A WBL placement termination can be initiated by the University, by the student and by the provider. 4.4 The grounds for terminating a WBL placement are normally linked to either inappropriate action, conduct or behaviour, or unilateral action by one signatory to the learning contract such that a student will be unable to meet the required learning outcomes. These grounds can be classified according to whether the student or provider is the potential ‘guilty party’. 4.5 Example grounds for termination are: a) Change the character of WBL setting; b) Failure of the WBL setting to provide appropriate support or opportunities for student to meet learning outcomes (to include issues such as disability, health and safety, harassment, bullying and overwork); c) Changes to the learning contract; d) Changes to the terms of ‘employment’; e) Provider is at risk of ceasing to operate/trade and thus jeopardises the student’s position in the workplace; f) Premature departure by the student from the WBL setting /placement;
g) A criminal conviction, especially where this is not first disclosed by the learner h) Allegations of problematic / inappropriate behaviour such as the failure to observe workplace norms; i) Severe difficulties to manage demands including unexplained absences or excessive absences; j) Evidence of repeated failure to complete or achieve a specific task/competence despite opportunities to learn; k) Failure to act in a professional manner such as reliability, punctuality or breaking confidentiality; l) Other circumstances which threaten the completion of the WBL placement. This is not a definitive list. 5. Termination procedures
5.1 Prior to the initiation of termination procedures every effort should have been made at the local level to avoid termination. 5.2 Initiation of termination procedures should be timely.
5.3 Whoever initiates termination procedures should have referred to the agreed learning contract to ensure they are not exceeding their responsibilities. 5.4 In the case of the provider, they may also apply their own employment termination procedures. If this is the case, they should keep the University informed of progress. Following this, the University will normally initiate its own termination procedures in order to determine the implication/ outcome for the student. 5.5 Whoever initiates the procedure should submit, in writing, evidence for the grounds for termination. Written evidence should include a summary of the circumstances including important dates, and other relevant details. 5.6 Written evidence should be presented to the Course Leader / Director of Studies for the relevant programme of studies. If the evidence is submitted to the respective Faculty WBL placement tutor or officer it is their responsibility to notify the Course Leader/ Director of Studies immediately. 5.7 The Course Leader / Director of Studies, with delegated responsibility from the Course Board of Studies, should notify the Faculty Termination Board. 5.8 The Faculty Termination Board membership will be: Head of Department from the Faculty (chair), Director of Studies from another Faculty, Placement tutor/officer, an impartial representative of WBL Providers, SU officer and an Officer. 5.9 It is the responsibility of the chair of the Faculty Termination Board to request any further written documentation from those concerned with the particular case. Additionally, the chair may ask a third party to provide corroborative evidence. Submissions should be received within 3 weeks of the request. On receipt of all documentation the Faculty Termination Board will be convened. 5.10 The Faculty Termination Board should normally hear representation from the student, provider and University. When and where necessary, this may be conducted at a distance via a conference call, or on the basis of written submission only. The student can be supported by a friend or advisor. The Board requests details of the status of the friend or advisor, and would require prior notification if any legal representative is to attend. 5.11 The purpose of the Faculty Termination Board meeting is: To establish and record the case against whichever party and record any response To come to a judgement of the facts of the case
To make a recommendation to the chair of the relevant Board of Examiners (normally UMS/PMS) and notify the Academic Registrar, and If necessary, seek advice from the Head of Student Services with regards to either initiating the University's investigatory/disciplinary procedures or fitness to study procedures against the student.
5.12 The Faculty Termination Board should contact the Deputy Vice Chancellor if it identifies possible grounds for investigatory procedures to be invoked against University staff. 5.13 The Faculty Termination Board should contact the Dean of the Faculty if it identifies an issue which relates to the provider. The Dean, or nominee, as a representative of Senior management within the University will undertake to discuss the matter with the appropriate managers of the organisation to determine if any further action should be taken. 6. Outcomes
6.1 If termination is confirmed, but a student is deemed not to be responsible, it is the University’s responsibility to support a student obtain another WBL placement. A ‘repeat’ of all or part of a WBL placement may require either repeat funding or a fee waiver by the University. In either instance the student should not be disadvantaged. Where appropriate, the University must inform the student’s funding authority about an extension to the period of study. 6.2 If termination is confirmed, and the student is deemed to be responsible, the recommendation is taken to the relevant Board of Examiners which will determine what action is taken. Normally, there are 4 options open to the Board of Examiners: i) Failure of WBL placement with no retake permitted. The student is advised about either transferring to an alternative course such as Combined Studies or exiting with a lower award if they have sufficient credit. ii) Failure with retake permitted ie. student is allowed to complete another WBL placement. This may require payment of another annual tuition fee. iii) Student permitted to ‘make up’ remainder of work at a different WBL placement setting iv) Through consultation with the Academic Registrar other University procedures may be invoked such as investigatory/ disciplinary procedures. 6.3 In the case of 6.1 or 6.2 the University should enter into a dialogue with the provider to ensure similar incidents do not occur again. 6.4 If termination is not confirmed, it is the responsibility of the University, in consultation with the student and provider, to determine how the student can continue with their WBL placement and meet the agreed learning outcomes. 6.5 The student and provider will be informed of the outcome in writing and normally within 5 working days of the Board of Examiners. 6.6 The student shall have the right to appeal once against a decision of the Board of Examiners. The only basis for an appeal is that there has been an administrative error or procedural irregularity during the conduct of the relevant investigation of such a significant nature as to have materially affected the decision of the Board. 6.7 The decision of the Scheme Board of Examiners will be communicated to the Dean of relevant Faculty or Head of Support Department at the same time as the student and provider are informed. 6.8 The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (the OIA) provides an independent scheme for the review of student complaints and appeals. When the University's procedures for dealing with termination have been exhausted, the University will issue a Completion of Procedures letter. Students wishing to avail themselves of the opportunity for an independent review by the OIA must submit their application to the OIA within three months of the issue of
the Completion of Procedures letter. Further details about the OIA are available from the Academic Registrar or the Students' Union or from the OIA website at www.oiahe.org.uk 6.9 On an annual basis the Academic Registrar will present a report to Academic Board containing an anonymised analysis of WBL placement termination under this procedure which details: the number and nature of the termination considered under the formal procedures and the outcomes thereof; an analysis of terminations by minority group, gender and disability based on information supplied at registration.
First Draft April 2008/ MEH Revised June 2008