The JISC funded ESCAPES (Enhancing Student Centred Administration for Placement ExperienceS) project at the University of Nottingham has focussed on improving the management of its placement process for both staff and students. As employers are more likely to take on graduates with work experience, students may be more likely to choose a course that has a placement element.
The relationships between teaching staff, administrative staff, students and businesses are an essential part of effective placement management. Challenges from the institution’s viewpoint included:
- a variety of unconnected processes used across the institution
- finding a way to ensure that common good practice was recorded and shared
- being able to record baseline placement data for employability statistics without imposing any centralised control across schools.
As well as some technological improvements, the project has resulted in a number of benefits for both staff and students, including:
- improved adminstrative efficiency from streamlining processes and extra facilities for data reporting; for example, it is now possible to identify students who make a number of unsuccessful placement applications in order to provide them with additional support
- more effective management of relationships with students whilst they are on placement; such as providing a single point of contact and improved methods of communication
- a number of enthusastic champions of good practice across the University have been identified as a result of the project.
For placement processes to be handled effectively, it is recommended that:
- senior management and practitioners are encouraged to be champions in good practice for placements with the role of a placement co-ordinator acting as a central conduit for relationships and communication
- when implementing such a project, staff need to “talk to people on their terms” to win them over and to promote an understanding of what people are doing and why; communication is key and can help enable “change by stealth”
- remember that the learning and administrative aspects of the placement process are co-dependent and that technology alone cannot replace the human element.
If you would like to find out more about this project, the following resources may help: