Coronavirus FAQs for students on sandwich and short placements

Updated: 28 July 2020

The University has issued this policy in response to placements and COVID-19, and issued updated Expectations and Responsibilities of placement providers to ensure students are working safely.

These FAQs are relevant to students on a sandwich placement, or a short placement only. Dedicated guidance is 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

Advice for students going on placement in 2020/21

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 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 Semester 1 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, this will remain in effect until 31 December 2020. 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.

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 Employability Operations team for further advice by emailing employabilityoperations@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 Employability Operations team for further advice by emailing employabilityoperations@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 Employability Operations team for further advice by emailing employabilityoperations@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 employabilityoperations@shu.ac.uk.

My placement has been cancelled due to COVID-19, what do I need to do?

You must contact the Employability Operations team immediately on employabilityoperations@shu.ac.uk for further advice.

It may not be too late to secure a further placement for 2020/21. However, if you intend to return to the final year of your studies in 2020/21, you will need to update your student loan application urgently if you applied for placement year funding.

The University will also need to correct your student record to state that you will be returning to your final year rather than going on placement, so that you have the best possible chance of securing the correct tuition and maintenance loan without a delay.

For further information, see the Arranging your placement section.

I haven’t secured a placement yet because of COVID-19, what should I do?

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. 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.

Advice for students returning from a 2019/20 placement

I am coming to the end of my placement year, what action do I need to take? 

Please complete this short form to update the University with your current situation on placement. It is really important to us to know you are safe and happy during your placement year even if this has been cut short. Given the COVID-19 situation, it is vital that we give you the support and advice you need to ensure your own safety, the safety of others and that your academic career is not effected by COVID-19. While you may already have been in touch with your course teams, please complete this short task. It will only take 2 minutes and will enable us give you the support or advise you. 

This information will go to the Employability Operations team to help us to do this. If your situation has changed since completing this form, please update the team at employabilityoperations@shu.ac.uk; the team will then advise you of any next steps you need to take. 

What happens if I can't complete my placement? 

The University is aware that many students cannot or do not wish to undertake a placement in the current circumstances. The University will take the following steps to ensure that students whose placement does not continue will still be able to continue on their course:

  • If you have completed 24 weeks of a sandwich placement you will be deemed to have satisfied the requirements of the placement and you should now proceed to submit any related documentation to your academic tutor – you still have the option to remain on placement if you wish. If you would like to remain on placement you must discuss this with your academic supervisor (or equivalent) and your placement provider, and you must ensure that you are strictly following the Government guidance. You should continually assess this risk of your placement to yourselves and others in discussion with your placement provider. You must update the Employability Operations team immediately to inform us that you are continuing your placement, and/or if your situation changes at employabilityoperations@shu.ac.uk, the team will then advise you of any next steps you need to take; 
  • If you are on a sandwich placement and you have not yet completed 24 weeks on placement, the University will put in place alternative arrangements to ensure that you can meet the learning outcomes of your placement. You should contact your academic tutor to discuss if you have not done so already, and you must update the Employability Operations team at employabilityoperations@shu.ac.uk with the end date of your placement; 
  • If you have completed or been withdrawn from a short placement as part of a placement module, your Module Leader or other member of the academic team will make alternative arrangements for you to complete the module and meet the module learning outcomes. You should contact your academic tutor to discuss this if you have not done so already, and you must update the Employability Operations team at employabilityoperations@shu.ac.uk with the end date of your placement; 
  • If you would like to remain on your short placement as part of a placement module, you must discuss this with your academic supervisor (or equivalent) or Module Leader and your placement provider and you must ensure that you are strictly following the Government guidance. You should continually assess this risk of your placement to yourselves and others in discussion with your placement provider. You must update the Employability Operations team immediately to inform us that you are continuing your placement, and/or if your situation changes at employabilityoperations@shu.ac.uk, the team will then advise you of any next steps you need to take. 

The University has put these arrangements in place to ensure that you are not academically disadvantaged by the current situation. 

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.

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

If you wish to leave your placement, you must discuss this with your line manager in the usual way to find out how to do this. Your placement provider will have policies in place for employees giving notice to terminate their employment which you may need to follow. Once you agree an end date to your placement, please inform the Employability Operations team employabilityoperations@shu.ac.uk

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

You must update the Employability Operations team immediately at employabilityoperations@shu.ac.uk. The team will then advise you of any next steps you need to take. 

What if I want to continue on my placement?

This is still an option for students on placements where your placement provider is able to implement the safety precautions as advised by the UK Government in full. At the time of writing, this includes effective social distancing and remote working. However, as this is under constant review by the UK Government this will include any updates as they are published. 

If you 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. 

In either case, please inform the Employability Operations team of your current intentions in relation to staying on your placement and let us have any updated end dates to your placement employabilityoperations@shu.ac.uk

The University must however reserve the right to terminate the placement and request that you withdraw if at any time we are not satisfied that a safe working environment cannot be maintained. 

What do I do if I have queries about my placement linked to coronavirus? 

Please send email questions direct to the Employability Operations team employabilityoperations@shu.ac.uk. They will be able to offer immediate advice in some cases or refer you to more specialist help where appropriate. 

I am studying on a Tier 4 Visa, how will this impact me? 

If you are studying on a Tier 4 visa, please liaise with your course team or placement supervisor to ensure that you are able to demonstrate that you are engaging with your studies in any alternative arrangements. This may include working on your dissertation or other academic work. 

If you decide to return to your home country, please complete this form

Otherwise, please keep the Employability Operations team employabilityoperations@shu.ac.uk up-to-date with your current situation. 

More information and advice specifically for international students is on the University’s main Coronavirus page

If I feel going on placement will affect my health, am I still expected to attend?

If you are currently on placement or have any concerns about attending placement, in the first instance please seek advice and guidance from your placement provider or your Academic Adviser 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 the coronavirus. 

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

If you have symptoms of coronavirus infection, however mild, you should stay home for seven days from when your symptoms started and follow the PHE stay at home guidance. If you come into contact with someone with confirmed Covid-19 you will need to self-isolate. Please do not worry about not being on placement if you need to self-isolate. It is important that you do not go on placement during the self-isolation period. 

Please notify the University of your absence in the usual way and please follow any notification arrangements set out by the placement organisation in relation to your self-isolation. 

If your symptoms worsen during home isolation please contact NHS 111 online. 

Should you live in other shared accommodation and need to avoid contact with other people please follow the Public Health England guidance on what avoiding contact with other people means in practice. 

I am a carer for elderly relatives or children, do I have to attend my placement? 

If you have any concerns about loved ones regarding the COVID-19 virus please call the free NHS111 telephone helpline. The current situation is very fluid, and we are gaining new information all of the time. Please attend placements as planned. However, if you have concerns about your welfare and those around you please contact Hallam Help; or your placement provider; or your Academic Adviser or alternative member of the teaching team for your placement. 

Can I work from home to complete my placement? 

Your placement provider may be able to provide you with work to complete which does not require you to attend the premises for all or part of your time on placement. In normal circumstances, the University would expect you to work in a supervised environment. However, given the circumstances, if this is an available option we recommend that you take advantage of this in order to complete your placement. 

What do I do about my costs? How do I pay for my placement accommodation? 

If leaving your placement earlier than expected puts you in a difficult financial position, including paying for your remaining accommodation costs, in the first instance please review the information available online as an application for hardship funding may be possible and appropriate for your particular circumstances: Additional Financial Help: More information on additional financial help can be found on MyHallam. For further advice in relation to your specific circumstances and to explore making an application for additional financial help, please contact Hallam Help. It may be possible for you to negotiate an earlier release for some of your commitments, such as your accommodation. If you need to do this, please contact your accommodation provider. In addition, the Students’ Union Advice Centre may be able to offer guidance on how to do this.

Additional Financial Help: 

More information on additional financial help can be found on MyHallam. For further advice in relation to your specific circumstances and to explore making an application for additional financial help, please contact Hallam Help.

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