Coronavirus FAQs for students on sandwich and short placements

Updated: 13 October 2020

These FAQs are relevant to students planning to undertake or are on a sandwich placement, or a short placement only. Dedicated guidance is also available if you’re on a health placement or education placement.

Useful information:

• For SHU updates, advice and guidance a specific website has been created on shu.ac.uk. This site is updated regularly in response to any developments in the outbreak and/or changes in guidance
• For Official advice and information on COVID-19 NHS Covid-19 website 
• For Public Health England (PHE) updated advice
• For NHS advice
• For information about the 111 service
• For stay at home advice 
• For information relating to travel advice from Foreign & Commonwealth Office 
• For coronavirus information for health professionals on the NHS England website

Information for all students

Are placements still going ahead?

The University remains committed to offering placements during the COVID-19 outbreak for all courses which offer the opportunity to undertake a sandwich placement, or a short placement which is integrated as part of a work experience module.

Where possible, we recommend undertaking placements of all types virtually, in order to reduce the risk of both transmission of the virus and to reduce the risk of your placement becoming disrupted or no longer viable in the event of a further lockdown.

There are of course, placements which are not possible to undertake remotely and will require physical attendance and travel to and from a workplace. These types of placement are also still going ahead and, in all cases, only on the basis that they are safe to do so, following all national and local government guidelines.

Further information for students looking for a placement this year is included toward the end of this page and on the Placement Blackboard site, Careers site and Careers Centre 360. All of which are available within the Your work placement site.

What if we go into lockdown again?

The University has a comprehensive contingency plan in place in the event of a further UK, or regional lockdown which is applicable to all types of work experience, including sandwich placements and short placements.

If your placement becomes unviable, difficult to continue, or put on hold due to changes in regional or national measures put in place by the local public authority or UK Government, the University will work with you to determine the appropriate next steps for you to ensure that your progression on your course is not unduly affected. The University and course teams are doing all they can to ensure students received an outstanding student experience, including working with employers, so if a face-to-face placement is not possible then they will be able to talk you through potential alternative options. This may include an alternative type of work experience, the opportunity for you to find an alternative placement, or we may confirm your eligibility to complete the placement earlier than expected depending on the requirements of your module or course.

If you are currently undertaking a short placement or will be doing so as part of your course and you think you might be affected in the future, please discuss your situation, concerns, and possible solutions with your module team (named staff are on the relevant module blackboard site).

Alternatively, if you are on a sandwich placement, please discuss with your Placement Academic Adviser (or equivalent), if you do not know who this is, this information is on blackboard.

For general queries, contact the University on workexperience@shu.ac.uk

I am studying on a Tier 4 Visa, what else do I need to know about going on placement?

If you are studying on a Tier 4 visa, there is information for International Students on Tier 4 visas which you must follow. Placements are still going ahead for all students, including those on Tier 4 visas.

All students (including those on a Tier 4 visa) must keep the University up-to-date with their plans to undertake a placement and all placements must be formally approved before commencement; this includes any changes to their placements.

As a Tier 4 student you must ensure that you are able to demonstrate that you are engaging with your studies and/or placement in any alternative arrangements. Therefore, if your placement has been postponed, cancelled or is at risk of being withdrawn, you must contact the University immediately on workexperience@shu.ac.uk for further advice.

If I feel going on placement will affect my health, should I go on placement?

The University’s Keeping safe on campus pages have a wide variety of help and advice to help you access the right information and support. Many of the answers to these types of questions can be found there, along with recommended actions you should take if you have specific concerns.

The University will continue to support you whilst you are on placement and will help you in your specific circumstances.

If you are currently on placement or have any concerns about going on placement, in the first instance please seek advice and guidance from your placement provider or your Academic Adviser (found on Blackboard) or alternative member of the teaching team for your placement. This should include concerns you have relating to an underlying health condition you have which may be negatively impacted by COVID-19. 

What do I do if I develop symptoms of Coronavirus or come in contact with someone with Coronavirus, should I self-isolate? 

You must follow the latest advice of the UK Government in relation to COVID-19 and on the University’s Keeping safe on campus pages and if you have tested positive for COVID-19, you must report this via the COVID-19 Reporting Contact Form.

I am a carer for elderly relatives or children, should I go on placement?

The University’s Keeping safe on campus pages have a wide variety of help and advice to help you access the right information and support. Many of the answers to these types of questions can be found there, along with recommended actions you should take if you have specific concerns.

You may not wish to undertake a placement in the current circumstances, which is understandable. We recommend you discuss your specific circumstances and career aspirations with your Academic Adviser and/or Employability Adviser. You will find your named contacts on blackboard. The University and course teams are doing all they can to ensure students received an outstanding student experience, including working with employers, so if a face-to-face placement is not possible then they will be able to talk you through potential alternative options.

If you have any concerns about loved ones regarding the COVID-19 virus, please call the free NHS111 telephone helpline.

Information for students currently on a Sandwich Placement during the academic year 2020/21

My sandwich placement is in an area which is currently in lockdown, what do I need to do?

In the first instance, please follow the advice of your placement provider in respect of any actions you are required to take as an employee. For example, this may include a transition to remote working if you are not already doing so, or staggered shift patterns etc.

You are still a student at the University and we are here to support you where we can. Information on our support services is available on our Keeping safe on campus pages, which you are still able to access while on placement. This includes help and guidance on self-isolation through to specific support needs.

For the most up to date information and support opportunities please contact your Placement Academic Adviser (or equivalent) and/or look for an email from the University (e.g. from your Academic Adviser, or from workexperience@shu.ac.uk) in your University emails.

You should advise your Placement Academic Adviser (or equivalent) of any action your placement provider requires of you as an employee, and you should discuss whether it is safe for you to continue the placement as planned.

If your placement has been postponed, cancelled or is at risk of being withdrawn, you must contact the University immediately on workexperience@shu.ac.uk for further advice so we can support you through this.

Naturally this is an extremely busy time and we are working hard to respond to all queries, therefore please be patient. In the meantime whilst you are waiting for a response, there continues to be support available to you to enable the further development of your career and any additional placement requirements on the Careers site and Careers Centre 360.

My sandwich placement is in an area which is currently in lockdown, does this mean I should leave my placement? 

We encourage you to think very carefully about your next steps. The University recognises that you are undertaking a placement for more than your academic progression and we have put steps in place to ensure this does not affect your ability to progress on your course. However, we recognise that you have more things to think about, such as the loss of any salary or other benefits you were receiving should you leave your placement.

If leaving your placement would put you in financial hardship, please refer to the guidance below. 

You must discuss your situation with your line manager and Placement Academic Adviser (or equivalent) before taking any action.

If your placement has been postponed, cancelled or is at risk of being withdrawn, you must contact the University immediately on workexperience@shu.ac.uk for further advice.

My sandwich placement is in an area which is currently in lockdown, what if I want to continue on my placement?

If you and your employer are satisfied that you are able to continue on your placement safely, the University’s current position is supportive of this and we will allow your placement to proceed, even where you are already deemed to have satisfied the requirements of your sandwich placement by completing 24 weeks. If at any point this is no longer the case, you must take immediate action to inform the University and prepare to leave your placement. 

You must discuss your situation with your line manager and Placement Academic Adviser (or equivalent) before taking any action and you must keep the University up-to-date with your progress throughout your placement, usually by speaking to your Placement Academic Adviser (or equivalent).

If your placement has been postponed, cancelled or is at risk of being withdrawn, you must contact the University immediately on workexperience@shu.ac.uk for further advice.

My placement provider has terminated my placement, what do I do? 

If your placement has been postponed, cancelled or is at risk of being withdrawn, you must contact the University immediately on workexperience@shu.ac.uk for further advice.

Information for students undertaking a Short Work Experience or Placement during the academic year 2020/21

My short placement is in an area which is currently in lockdown, what do I need to do?

In the first instance, please follow the advice of your placement provider in respect of any actions you are required to take as a student undertaking work experience. For example, this may include a transition to remote working if you are not already doing so, or staggered shift patterns etc.

You are still a student at the University and we are here to support you where we can. Information on our support services is available on our Keeping safe on campus pages, which you are still able to access while on placement. This includes help and guidance on self-isolation through to specific support needs.

If you are on a short placement, please contact a member of the module team and/or look for an email from a tutor for your module in your University emails (e.g. from your Academic Adviser, Module Leader or from workexperience@shu.ac.uk).

You should advise your module tutor of any action your placement provider requires of you, and you should discuss whether it is safe for you to continue the placement as planned.

If your placement has been postponed, cancelled or is at risk of being withdrawn, you must contact the University immediately on workexperience@shu.ac.uk for further advice.

Naturally this is an extremely busy time and we are working hard to respond to all queries, therefore please be patient. In the meantime whilst you are waiting for a response, there continues to be support available to you to enable the further development of your career and any additional placement requirements on the Careers site and Careers Centre 360.

Advice for students looking for a Sandwich Placement commencing in 2021/22

What support is available to help me secure a placement?

These are clearly difficult times, but employers are still looking for students to join their organisations on placement, which is really encouraging to hear and our students are part of their recovery. There are lots of opportunities on your course, online, through employer fairs and events that can help you secure a placement that meets your aspirations and circumstances.

The Placement Blackboard site has resources to help you get started at your own pace, along with the resources on the Careers site and Careers Centre 360. All of which are available within the Your work placement site.

What is the deadline to secure a placement?

If you do not confirm to the University that you have a placement, or that you intend to go on placement by 31 July, you will be automatically transferred to the ‘no placement’ version of your course to help to ensure you receive the correct level of funding and your student record (including timetable etc.) is prepared accordingly.

Any placements secured after this date will be by exception only, unless these require international travel, in which case these cannot be approved; no further international placements may be considered due to the suspension on international travel (see FAQ below).

If you would like to continue looking for a placement, you must secure one before induction week of your final year but any notification after 31 July will mean that you may receive an overpayment of maintenance loan which will need to be repaid or offset at a later date.

For further information, see the Arranging your placement section.

What is the latest date I can start my placement?

If you are an undergraduate student on a 4 year degree, your placement should start as soon as possible and must start by the end of Semester 1 (December) to avoid an impact on your funding. If you think you need longer, you should seek advice from your Student Support Adviser.

If you are a postgraduate student, your placement must start as soon as possible after your taught studies and any University vacation periods.

If you are a student studying with us on a Tier 4 visa, there are additional things you must consider and these are in our International students on Tier 4 visas page.

For further information, see the Arranging your placement section.

Can I travel outside the UK to do a placement?

The University has suspended all international travel for 2020/21 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, this will remain in effect until 30 April 2021. This includes all work placement activity. Until this date, we advise students and staff to avoid travel unless this is to return to the UK, or if you are an international or EU student, to return to your home country.

It is difficult to make any predictions of any future travel restrictions so if you do want to undertake an international placement then please keep up-to-date with changes to travel restrictions and University travel decisions on this site. All international travel brings with it a certain element of risk during these unprecedented times so please consider this risk when planning and securing any international placement.

Any travel during this period will not be covered on the University's emergency assistance travel insurance policy.

No further international placements may be considered during these restrictions.

If you are undertaking a placement in your home country, this restriction does not affect you (see FAQ below).

I am an International or EU student, can I travel to my home country to do a placement?

Travel to and from your home country is unrestricted by the University's suspension of international travel. If you do choose to undertake your placement in your home country, please be aware that your travel back to the UK may be restricted by the UK Government without notice and the University may not be able to provide assistance should you need to return to the UK. Therefore, if you are travelling to your home country, please be aware that you may not be able to return to the UK in the event of a further outbreak and restrictions placed by the UK Government and any travel is therefore at your own risk.

As a general reminder, you must not start your placement without this being authorised by the University. If your placement has not yet been approved, please go to the Get your placement approved section, or contact the University for further advice by emailing workexperience@shu.ac.uk.

I want to work for an overseas employer, can I do this as a virtual placement from the UK or my home country?

Virtual placements, or placements that can be completed remotely are unaffected as these do not require you to undertake any international travel.

As a general reminder, you must not start your placement without this being authorised by the University. If your placement has not yet been approved, please go to the Get your placement approved section, or contact the University for further advice by emailing workexperience@shu.ac.uk.

I am an International or EU student, can I travel to my home country to do a virtual placement?

Travel to and from your home country is unrestricted by the University’s suspension of international travel. Therefore if you would prefer to complete your virtual placement (with a UK or overseas employer) from your home country, this is also an option for you if your placement provider is able to support you to do that.

Please bear in mind the practicalities of this, such as differences in time zones.

If you do choose to undertake your virtual placement in your home country, your travel back to the UK may be restricted by the UK Government without notice and the University may not be able to provide assistance should you need to return to the UK. Therefore if you are travelling to your home country, please be aware that you may not be able to return to the UK in the event of a further outbreak and restrictions placed by the UK Government and any travel is therefore at your own risk.

As a general reminder, you must not start your placement without this being authorised by the University. If your placement has not yet been approved, please go to the Get your placement approved section, or contact the University for further advice by emailing workexperience@shu.ac.uk.

I need to relocate within the UK for my placement, what do I need to do?

The UK Government has published advice on moving home during the COVID-19 outbreak. We recommend that you follow this advice if you need to relocate within the UK to start your placement. If you are unable to relocate, we recommend approaching your placement provider to ask for flexibility in relation to your start date, and if possible a period of remote working until you are in a position to relocate (or both).

Please remember to keep the University up-to-date with any changes to your start dates by emailing workexperience@shu.ac.uk.

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