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Placements and work experience

Placements can lead to graduate jobs

Why do a placement?

Doing a placement as part of your course is a great way to gain work experience in a field related to your studies. This is becoming more important as a recent survey of employers by Rate My Placement has found that:  

54% of placement students and interns are offered graduate jobs. (Rate my placement 2019)  

So potentially you could not only gain industry insight, gain some key contacts and clarify your career goals but also gain graduate employment. 

What is a placement?

As far as the University is concerned, a placement is a period of assessed learning in a workplace included in a module, and you have to work in a field relevant to your course. This is because a placement aims to bridge the gap between academic study and vocational experience through practical and professional work experience. 

If you are doing a placement as part of your course you must use the placement app on the Portal to get your placement signed off prior to your placement start date. Your tutor will approve the placement on the placement app and Solent will send your employer an email to confirm your placement. This process is to ensure your placement is fully risk assessed and suitable for your course.  

The University will support you in finding a placement but it is the responsibility of the student to source their placement and to input their details on the Placement App before they start their placement.  

Unpaid work experience

Employability is at the heart of Solent University and many courses include integrated work experience to increase their students’ professional experience and graduate skills.

The 2015 High Fliers Report highlighted that employers prefer to employ those with skills gained from placements and work experience in addition to a degree, even in times of an improving labour market for graduates. Therefore it’s critical that students engage in placements or work experience related to their chosen field.

The majority of placement students receive an industry appropriate salary, although this is not a legal requirement. The University does not encourage students to accept unpaid opportunities, but it acknowledges that in some circumstances unpaid experience will be key to improving skills and can lead to graduate employment.

Already work part-time?

Your part-time work is a valuable experience and sometimes may be approved by your unit leader to be counted as a placement. If your course includes a placement or a work-based learning unit, have a look at the placement handbook explaining much of the useful information you will need to know.

Looking for placements

It is your responsibility to secure a placement. However, help and great resources are available from Solent Futures and course teams. 

Some general websites to get you started are:

If you feel you may face additional challenges or potential discrimination when seeking a placement, the equality and employment section contains a range of resources you may find useful.

Health and safety

As part of its duty of care to students, the University aims to ensure your health and safety during placement. Employers are required to sign an agreement confirming their responsibilities to you while you are on placement - this includes ensuring your health and safety.

You should expect to receive health and safety information from your placement provider as part of your induction training. However if you ever have any concerns about your health, safety or wellbeing while on a placement, you should contact your tutor immediately.

It is important you fully understand the duties you will be completing and the environment you will be working in. The risk profile section of the placement app will help you to identify any potential health and safety issues you may need to consider when undertaking your work placement. 

Placements abroad: If you have found a placement outside the UK, there will be additional factors to consider. Please discuss details with your tutor or with a member of the Solent Futures team.

Insurance

All UK employers are required to proved employers' liability insurance. Requirements outside the UK may differ. If you are on an overseas placement you will need to discuss employers' liability insurance with your tutor.

The University’s travel insurance policy provides comprehensive travel and emergency medical assistance for students undertaking overseas placements of up to one year. You must notify the University's insurance office in advance if your placement is longer than six months in duration. For work placements in excess of one year, you will need to purchase your own independent cover.  

This is just a summary of insurance details. Please see your placement handbook and the insurance pages on the Portal for more detailed information.

Support grants

The support grant is a non-repayable grant for students who are in financial hardship. Students can use this grant to help fund their placement.

Find out more about support grants

Tier 4 students on placements

If you are on a Tier 4 visa you can take part in a work placement if it is counted towards an assessed unit on your course and does not take more than one third or half of your course, depending on your level of study.

As your Tier 4 sponsor, Solent University is required to notify the Home Office if you will be carrying out a work placement. Therefore, it is essential you log your placement on the University's placement app prior to starting the placement. Failure to do so could result in your breaking the work conditions attached to your visa.

As a Tier 4 sponsor, the University is required to monitor the attendance of Tier 4 students while undertaking a placement and will receive regular attendance reports from your placement provider. Unexplained absences could result in the University withdrawing your Tier 4 sponsorship and reporting this to the Home Office, who will cancel your visa. Therefore, if you are unable to attend your placement for any reason, it is essential you let your employer know as soon as possible, and by 1pm at the very latest, on the day of absence.

Tier 4 students are not permitted to be self-employed or engaged in business activity which includes setting up a business, being employed for a company in which they hold shares of 10 per cent or more, or holding a statutory role, such as a director.

Solent funding for unpaid work experience

The University aims to improve the employability of students and work experience plays a major role in this. The University does not encourage students to accept unpaid opportunities, but it acknowledges that in some circumstances unpaid experience will be key to improving skills and can lead to graduate employment.

Solent University has a fund to support students who have been offered unpaid work experience or placements. This will allow the students to gain experience they might otherwise have to turn down because of their financial situation. Not all students are eligible to apply and not all applications will be successful.

Find out more about this funding scheme

Solent Futures Online

Solent Futures Online has nationwide placement vacancies, including some that are exclusively advertised to Solent University students. We do not advertise vacancies that to our knowledge do not comply with Government guidance on the National Minimum Wage. Please email solent.futures@solent.ac.uk if you want to raise concerns about an advertised vacancy.

We also have a Solent programme on Solent Futures Online that guides you through the steps of using the placement app and ensures you're safe on your placement.