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Student Support and Information

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Students should be provided with appropriate guidance and support in preparation for, during and after their placements. Whenever possible guidance to students should be developed in consultation with placement providers.

Pre-Departure Information and Advice

Students should be provided with detailed information before their placement comprising guidance notes and briefing meetings. Briefing meetings should ideally involve students who have already completed placements in earlier years and incoming exchange students from the relevant countries and institutions. Generally, the following information should be provided to students prior to the start of a placement, though in certain cases such as privately arranged internships responsibility for collecting this information may rest with the student:

  1. Departmental support for a placement arranged by the student.
  2. Information on health and safety issues
  3. Legal or ethical considerations, such as any professional requirements for confidentiality and differences in legislation, local customs and practices.
  4. Means of recording achievement of learning outcomes and progress. Departments should ensure that their course regulations and student guidance notes make clear what the expectations are of the year abroad. Course regulations must be clear about the outcome for students if the year abroad is failed.
  5. Additional language or skills preparation. Departments should consider carefully the level of written and oral linguistic competence required before a student is permitted to undertake a placement. This will clearly vary depending on whether or not modules taken overseas will contribute towards the Warwick degree.
  6. Practical issues relating to travel, insurance, financial and banking arrangements, personal security, accommodation, cost of living and any host country formalities (such as residence permits).
  7. Cultural orientation and work expectations.
  8. Information about the placement provider including the nature of the institution, contact names, details of holidays and/or term times, study facilities, induction and registration procedures, pastoral care arrangements, facilities for special needs students, library and other facilities provision, social and leisure activities. Students on study abroad programmes should also receive information about degree structure, modules available and guidance on suitable modules.
  9. Institutional support services available to students during placements at Warwick and the placement provider.

Most departmental handbooks provide ample information for a student going on placement, including what to expect before, during and after placement in terms of pastoral support and the achievement of learning outcomes. It is also useful to include information as to what students can expect in terms of access to computers, the Internet and other resources. All departments sending students abroad require students to purchase personal medical insurance – students participating in the ERASMUS programmes sign a contract which requires confirmation of insurance details.

The Department of Chemistry provides students with a list of previous and current placement providers to which students can apply for a placement.

A year prior to departure, the Year Abroad Tutor in the Department of History, School of Comparative American Studies and in the Departments of German, Italian and French Studies informs all first and second year students about the study abroad courses, matches students to host institutions and ensures the appropriate procedures are completed prior to departure, assisted by the International Office.

The Comparative American Studies Year Abroad handbook explains the differences students may encounter in the American University system and provides an A-Z directory of advice. Informal Year Abroad guides written by previous years’ students are also made available.

The Phase II handbook for the MBChB students in the Medical School provides information on each local NHS Trust which includes site-specific information on where to report on the first morning, who to contact, accommodation, location and hours of the library and IT provision, any health requirements before starting and where to get a pager/bleep.

The Department of Politics and International Studies and Modern Languages departments hold a series of meetings and briefing sessions throughout the academic year preceding the exchange. Social events are held in the first and second terms at which outgoing students can meet students from the host universities who are currently studying at Warwick and Warwick students who have previously studied abroad.

The Warwick Business School holds pre-departure meetings for students studying International Business and German and Business and another for students interested in going to North America. Warwick students returning from an exchange and students currently at Warwick from partner institutions are in attendance. Both meetings are followed by a social event to allow students to mingle and discuss experiences.

The Departments of Italian and German Studies handbooks include information from the Careers Service on making the most of the year abroad. The Departments run an extensive pre -placement programme with the International Office involving the Careers Service and other cohorts of students.


Disability Support

The disability support service at Warwick (disability@warwick.ac.uk) can help students apply for any funding they are eligible for, offer advice to departments on reasonable adjustments/assistive technology and help advise on placement issues.

Funding available for disabled students is through Student Finance England (if they apply for it) and is called the Disabled Student Allowance (DSA). The disability support service can provide advice, guidance and facilitate support arrangements but do not directly provide any funding.

DSAs can fund assistive technology (software, equipment, digital recorders etc.), individual support (note taking, dyslexia tuition, library assistance etc.), general allowances (for travelling, books, photocopying) based on individual requirements. Students who have evidence of their disability and are fully enrolled on a course (FT or PT of at least 50% FTE attendance) are eligible for DSAs. Individual academic support is provided by Warwick and Student Finance England invoiced for any such support provided. If students are not eligible for the DSAs and they require a note taker for example, or dyslexia support, it may be possible to facilitate this internally but the disability support service should be consulted.

DSAs are not intended to fund anything that is seen as an Institutional responsibility to make reasonable adjustments and it is usual that placement learning would fall within this definition.

In most cases the reasonable adjustments required can be accommodated with a bit of flexibility and creative thinking. The reasonable adjustments that need to be considered will vary depending on the level of need but could include making adaptations to the physical environment to ensure the space is accessible, resources in accessible formats, TAs (where appropriate), mentoring, software and equipment etc. For some International placements, this might be more challenging. Students in this position may find that the culture, policies and legislation were very different to that of the UK and this can, in some cases, cause problems. Working in advance with placement providers to make them aware that there might be students with disabilities accessing those placements can lead to early identification of any problematic areas. The Disability support service (disability@warwick.ac.uk) should be contacted for advice.

Support from the International Office

Students going abroad through the ERASMUS programme or an academic exchange to North or South America are provided with the following information from the International Office:

  • University of Warwick Insurance Policy and Health Questionnaire
  • University and Visa applications
  • Information on Local Educational Authorities and the Erasmus Grant (if applicable)
  • ‘To whom it may concern’ letter confirming student status
  • Accommodation form for the following year
  • Checklist of things to do before leaving the UK (Annex C).
  • Country-specific information and advice where available

A pre-departure briefing is held for all outgoing Warwick students, as well as individual meetings with each outgoing S-E student. International Office representatives are available to co-host briefing sessions for outgoing or incoming students. The International Office also holds files on ERASMUS/exchange links, available for student consultation.

For more information, contact:

Helen Johnson (North and South America)
Amanda Ashby (ERASMUS)

Placement learning and immigration

When considering if a non-EEA student will be able to participate in placement learning, it is important to establish whether the course would be suitable for the student to apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa under the Points Based System. All students entering on a student visitor visa are entirely prohibited from working, and this includes work placements and internships, whether paid or unpaid.

If the course would not enable them to apply for a Tier 4 visa, the international student is unlikely to be able to enter or remain in the UK for the purpose of studies. For further information or guidance, on this or any of the below, please contact the University’s Immigration Service: immigrationservice@warwick.ac.uk.

What is the Points Based System?

It is a new immigration system that came into effect from February 2008. It affects most migrants coming to the UK for work or study. It is underpinned by the principle of sponsorship: whereby the institution or organisation receiving the students/workers is responsible for ensuring that these migrants do not abuse the immigration system.

In order to recruit international students, who will enter the UK under Tier 4 of the Points Based System, institutions are obliged to apply for a sponsor license. Warwick has applied for and been granted Highly Trusted Sponsor status. This comes with certain sponsor duties:

  • Record keeping of student’s immigration status
  • Monitoring and reporting – non-enrolment, withdrawal from studies etc

Failure to exercise our HTS duties could result in the loss of this status and ultimately to the revoking of our licence to bring international students into the country for study. These duties apply even where a student is undertaking a period of placement learning.

What does a student need to qualify for a Tier 4 visa?

Applicants require a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from their Tier 4 sponsor. We may only create CAS for a full-time programme of studies, where the candidate has met all conditions of our offer. The course must also meet specific minimum academic requirements.

Work placements during the course

If the course contains a course-related work placement, any period that the applicant will be spending on that placement must not exceed half of the total length of the course spent in the United Kingdom, except where it is a United Kingdom statutory requirement that the placement should exceed half the total length of the course.

Financial Implications

Most departments set out in their handbooks that students should consider the financial implications of a year abroad when selecting the course or how they will spend the year. University of Warwick students are eligible for hardship funds while on placement if they meet the application criteria; information can be obtained from the Senior Tutor’s Office, the Academic Office or Students’ Union Advice and Welfare Services.

In general, students undertaking a year abroad/sandwich year are normally only charged 50% of the usual full-time fee during the year abroad. Further information about current fees in any given academic year can be obtained from the Student Finance section of the Academic Office (http://go.warwick.ac.uk/studentfinance/tuitionfees)

Students on ERASMUS programmes normally receive a mobility grant that covers some of the extra expense associated with living abroad (approximately €250 per month of placement for a minimum of 3 months and maximum of 10 months). ERASMUS funds also may be available to support an intensive language training course in the host country immediately before the start of the academic year.

The Department of Italian Studies handbook provides a list of anticipated costs for the year abroad. Accommodation in Venice during the Easter visit is free, meals are provided and the Department will reimburse reasonable travel costs. At the residence in Rome students complete a Year Abroad Questionnaire (Annex D), which asks questions about costs incurred throughout the year and is used to update the departmental handbook annually.

The Warwick Business School warns students going to the United States that they will be required to show evidence of access to funds totalling $5000 in order to obtain a student visa. The North American handbook is updated annually with the most recent costs available for accommodation and meal plans to ensure students are aware of the financial implications of the placement.

The Department of French and German Studies’ Year Abroad handbook explains that students are required to pay fees to the University of Warwick during their year abroad (unless participating in a ERASMUS exchange or working as a language assistant in the EU) to cover the costs of academic guidance, pastoral support and administration for organising the year abroad. If you are participating in a ERASMUS exchange or working as a language assistant in the EU then you will receive a maintenance grant.

The School of Comparative American Studies will reimburse the cost of any compulsory Spanish language textbooks for departmental students upon remittance of receipts. CAS students based in Latin America who are required to pay extra for certain modules will be reimbursed, provided the Department’s permission is obtained before they enrol on the course.


Support and Advice While on Placement

Students should be provided with an induction to the placement environment, including appropriate health and safety information and provided with a point of contact at the placement location and within the University to approach with any problems or questions. Courses which do not require assessment throughout the year should have an alternative means of monitoring the academic progress of students on placement to ensure that they are on track for achieving the learning outcomes, as well as their general safety and well-being. Students on placement should also have access to the e-mail addresses of appropriate SSLC representatives on campus, should they wish to raise issues regarding the academic aspects of placement learning.

Guidance on support and advice for students on health and safety matters and in particular about the processes for enabling problems to be raised and resolved while on placement is provided in the University’s Health and Safety Policy and Guidance on Student Placements.

Monitoring Progress: Pastoral Support

Departments should ensure continuity of access to pastoral support, including continued contact with personal tutors (by email or by other means). Students on placements are entitled to access to the University’s Student Support services.

The Department of Economics sends out an e-mail questionnaire towards the end of each term for students to answer and send to their personal tutors, to keep them informed of progress and any problems.

Support and advice for students in Warwick Business School is complemented by the use of my.wbs, a web portal available whilst at Warwick, as well as when on placement. My.wbs has a facility for discussions, which are monitored by the module tutors for the two year abroad modules and is a means to provide students with news and course-specific information, handbooks, SSLC materials and staff e-mail addresses.

The Department of Politics and International Studies provides students with a set of five forms prior to leaving with deadline for submission to the department, ensuring that the student communicates their whereabouts when they arrive, half way through the first term, at Christmas, in early March and at the end of the year. Each form requests summaries of progress, problems and positive aspects of the placement. At the University of Massachusetts, students from Warwick have a designated faculty adviser, who offers academic and pastoral support and communicates with the PAIS exchange co-ordinator.

The German Year Abroad Co-ordinator and personal tutors are available for guidance via e-mail and a web board, which also contains downloadable information about the final year of studies at the University.

The School of Health and Social Studies requires an interim three-way meeting (student, placement provider and University) to review the progress of the student on placement, using the initial Working Agreement as a starting point.

During industrial placements, students from the Department of Chemistry have a nominated tutor from the department who visits them on site and acts as a point of contact.

Institute of Education Initial Teacher Training students receive at least one tutor visit, mentor meetings, lesson observations and review meetings. The Initial Teacher Training handbook includes a suggested list of topics for discussion between the placement mentor and student, such as health and safety rules, policies and procedures and meeting with school governors.


What if a student wants to come home?

If a student contacts the department wanting to leave the placement due to homesickness or other non-medical reasons, they must be made aware of the academic consequences of failing to complete the placement. The student and department should consult with the University’s Senior Tutor as and when appropriate.

If the student must leave the placement due to medical problems, the Senior Tutor should again be involved. All students travelling abroad for their placement should purchase personal medical insurance enabling them to receive medical attention in the country of placement. In either situation the department should maintain contact with the placement provider and the student.

Academic Progress: Recording Achievement of Learning Outcomes

Achievement of learning outcomes is generally recorded through assessed or formative coursework. Although many placement learning opportunities require students to submit a report or even assessed essays, outside of the University environment students are required to take responsibility for recording more of their own learning and development.

The Department of German Studies advises students to keep a personal record of progress during the year abroad to help prepare for what lies ahead, to enable students to learn about themselves and to help them reflect on academic and personal learning. It also encourages year abroad students to take every possible opportunity to improve knowledge of or acquire another foreign language besides German.


Preparing for return to Warwick

Accommodation and module selection

While students are on placement, they need to be informed about and prepare for their next year at the University. The International Office sends all students studying abroad accommodation request forms for the next year at Warwick. Some departments include a discussion on module selection for the next year when visiting the students on placement. In all cases, departments should ensure that students away on placements are given the same information about module selection, at the same time, and the same opportunities for choice and discussion (by email as necessary), as those students on campus.

The Department of German Studies holds an orientation and module selection workshop, tutorial meetings, debriefing sessions and a meeting with a Careers Advisor during its Easter vacation school at Schloss Dhaun, Germany.


Re-orientation on return

Departments may wish to hold re-orientation meetings and events.

The Warwick Business School holds a welcome back meeting in the first week of Autumn Term to de-brief students and ensure they are aware of forthcoming events such as careers talks.

The Department of Italian Studies holds debriefing workshops between returning students, Italian exchange students and first year students, to encourage reflection on the year abroad, help prepare those yet to go and provide a forum for discussion on how to improve the programme.

On returning to Warwick, Politics and International Studies students meet directly with the Director of International Students to discuss their placement learning and the evaluation of the written report.

Students in the Departments of French and German Studies complete a Year Abroad Report Form upon return to Warwick to reflect upon the contribution the Year Abroad experience has made towards personal development.


Careers advice

Students away from the University just before their final year may miss out on careers advice vital to the start of graduate recruitment early in the Autumn Term. Many departments assist students by providing careers advice in their handbooks, during visits and upon the students’ return to campus.

The Careers Service delivers many of its advice and information services through its web site and students should be encouraged to take advantage of these to integrate their career planning with their personal development planning. Many departments include input from the Careers Service in their pre-departure briefings for students and the Careers Service can send information to students at their placement that will support their career planning. Individual support is also available by e-mail.

Appendices in the Department of German Studies’ handbook include information on ‘Transferable Skills’, ‘Typical graduate form questions’ and ‘Typical graduate interview questions’. The handbook also includes information from the Careers Service on how to conduct a careers search from abroad, the German/Austrian/Swiss approaches to recruitment, postgraduate study and preparing for career search activities in the final year. There are exercises for students to complete, such as identifying skills they want to use, and how to demonstrate that they possess them.