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  • 28 score
    32 voters

    Placements - why do we have to suck it up & just get on with it the financial & emotional stress?

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    I'd like to see every course which includes a mandatory placement to provide a date as to when placement information will be shared with the student. This should be ideally a minimum of 2 months prior to the start date of the placement. I'd also like the university to understand the equality impact of full-time placements on different students and introduce appropriate dedicated support to ensure students can successfully complete their placements. I'll tell you why in the comments! :)
Daisy Giuliano
3:27pm on 31 Mar 22 I am a first year Occupational Therapy student and I am about to start my first placement. It is a mandatory part of every year of my course in order to qualify. I understand this will be the case for many other healthcare and education students. I am incredibly frustrated at how unsupportive the university have been towards the placement part of my course. They were unable to give us a date as to when we'd hear about our placement allocation. This means students are unable to sort out any caring responsbilities and costs, manage on-going employment and if they can continue working during placement, have enough time to sort out suitable accommodation if they are placed far from home and ultimately budget accordingly as to how much the placement period will cost them. We eventually found out 5 weeks before we are due to start. The university has encouraged students not to work during placement. I completely understand why they are saying this, but it was without any acknowledgement that for a lot of students, not working means not being able to afford rent/food/quality of life. The NHS give a bursary to all OT students yearly but I still need to work. For many, being on placement will incur additional fuel/accommodation costs which whilst can be claimed back, require you to have the money upfront. So essentially I not only can't earn money, I also won't be paid for my labour whilst on placement and need money upfront to pay for being on placement. The late/unknown date of placement allocation has made it incredibly stressful to plan how I will afford this period of time. I don't have caring responsbilities, don't study part-time, don't have additional costs due to a disability and do have a financial safety net if required. I think about how stressful I've been and think about other students in different situations where it could be even more stressful. I am disappointed at the university's unempathetic approach of 'this is something you have to do so just get on with it'. I have been given little information about where I could find support about placement. I know many of the courses which require placements are regulated by governing bodies of that profession, in my case, this is the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, the Health and Care Professions Council and the NHS. I do not think it is acceptable for the university to lower to the policies and stance of these external bodies (for example the expenses policy) and not advocate or support students in these areas. I know there is a shortage of workers in a lot of the job roles which have placements as part of their courses. I also know it is an objective of the university to widen university education to under-represented groups. I feel that the placement process is a significant area that should be revaluated to make more inclusive and runs the risk of people dropping out of courses and/or finding it extremely challenging. I'm sure it is understood that there is a difference between getting more and different people through the door and enrolled on a course versus ensuring their healthy and successful progression through the course, to completion. In my opinion the university should review its internal processes and ensure that the 'system' of placements prioritises how best to support students' needs, especially those who are part-time learners, have caring responsibilities, from low-income backgrounds and/or have no financial safety net.
Daisy Giuliano
3:31pm on 31 Mar 22 Sorry for the big wall of text, I did have lines in it but they've got lost when I've posted it! I'm aware I'm one student on one course which has a placement so I'd be really interested to know what other people think. I have raised it with my lecturers, student reps, VP Welfare Owen and the University's Equality and Diversity lead but not really had any response yet.