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Placement students

Students away from the University on courses, placements, teacher training, etc.Petri dishes

Students who have enrolled on a course which involves time away from campus, whether it's a placement year abroad or a shorter term internship in the UK, will require a high standard of duty of care and support. This is not only to ensure their personal safety and wellbeing on placement, but also to make sure the student's experience is a positive one and that it compliments their programme of study.

The University has developed a policy that, from 2011-2012, all courses will offer all students a placement opportunity whether it be a) part of a module b) a whole module or c) and entire year, examples of placement opportunities will be very varied and examples could include:

  • An industrial placement year.
  • Summer internship with an employer or voluntary group.
  • Two weeks' project-based placement during the Easter vacation, or during term time.
  • Day release placement over a period of a term.
  • Study abroad at another University as part of a language programme.
  • Any activity through the Erasmus Programme such as language assistant or work abroad.

Some students will have enrolled on a four-year course which has the 'placement' year embedded into it, and others will have 'opted' into a placement module once they have started their course, either way despite the length or location of the placement, it is crucial that:

  • All students are well prepared for their placement.
  • Duty of care procedures are followed in terms of a) conducting visits, and risk assessments and b) ensuring students are given health and safety inductions.
  • All placement opportunities must suit the learning outcomes of the course.
  • Assessments of placement opportunities should help students reflect on both academic and reflective learning, in order to help students recognise and build on their self development and employability skills.

For more information on placement codes of practice please see:

Central support for placement students

Schools with a high volume of placement activity may already have dedicated staff to support placement activities. If you do not have a placement Tutor or Officer, please contact the Careers, Placement and Experience Centre, who have allocated a Placement and Development Officer for your faculty who can help with:

  • Preparing your students for their placements and helping them develop their CVs and applications, interview techniques and sourcing opportunities.
  • Supporting your placement operations in terms of duty of care, health and safety, contracts and visits.
  • Working with you to help your students reflect proactively on their placement learning.

If you require any support, please contact Em Sowden, Placement and Development Manager on 0118 378 8354 or email

What you can do to support your students

Even with a high level of preparation and support for placement learning, students will inevitably encounter problems that they may need your help to address. Challenges may include anything from frustration at not being able to secure the right kind of placement opportunity to balancing their placements with academic studies.

Other issues may include worries over leaving their peers and rejoining the course when many of their friends have moved on (in the case of a year in industry or abroad), or just simply that they are lonely, in a strange country or environment with limited support outside of the workplace or placement setting.

Students may need your reassurance that they are ready to participate in placement learning and seek your guidance or approval at any stage of the placement process.

Tips on how to support your placement student


  • Ensure your student is fully aware of what is expected of them before, during and after their placement e.g. are they expected to find their own placement; how will they be assessed; will they be visited; and who can they contact if there are any problems?
  • It might also be useful to put placement students in touch with students who have already completed a placement (either as a year or shorter) for peer advice and support.
  • Ensure pre-placement sessions/tutorials are run well in advance to help students to:

a) Decide what type of placement settings / hosts are suitable for their course.

b) How to source suitable placement opportunities.

c) How to prepare their CV/applications or find a placement opportunity speculatively.

d) Prepare for interviews and potentially assessment centres and psychometric tests.

  • If students are participating in a year- long placement, they will need to be aware of issues such as finding accommodation, registering with a GP or bank (if overseas).
  • Ensure your student is aware of whom they should contact if any problems occur whilst they are on placement, is it you, the Placement Officer/Tutor, School Administrator ,or anyone else? As longer term placements begin in the summer, inevitably staff may be on vacation, so having two points of contact in case of emergency is advisable.

During placement

  • All students should complete a health and safety induction with their placement provider on the first day of the placement, which should be returned to the school.
  • Students are in most cases protected by employer's liability insurance as well as University insurance whilst on placement. If the student is issued with an employer contract, please ensure this is seen by Academic Legal Services directly, to check the terms and conditions and that the student has adequate duty of care.
  • Where students are out on placement longer than six months, they should receive at least one visit from the University during that time. Two visits are recommended if the placement is a year long.
  • Regular contact/support via email or Blackboard during longer term placements where possible is also helpful in terms of keeping in touch.


  • Spending time with students when they have completed their placement and return to their course is essential to help them ease back into University life and their academic studies.
  • Encouraging placement students to reflect on their placement learning, sooner rather than later has a positive impact on helping them gain graduate level recruitment when they complete their studies.

Useful links and contacts

The University of Reading Placement staff and Tutor Forum: The forum is an ideal place to pick up and share good placement practice. We provide links to all placement staff at the University and useful resources and information through our 'resources section'. We also regularly run placement training sessions for staff through CQSD, as well as hosting Placement Forum lunches quarterly for placement staff to discuss good practice and ideas these sessions are bookable through the employee self service portal

Please contact the Placement and Development team in CPEC for support in all aspects of placement learning and management. Em Sowden 0118 378 8354 or email


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