Version 1. 8 April 2020
The Covid-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge to the delivery of College of Radiographers’ approved pre-registration radiography education programmes, both at BSc (Hons) and MSc levels. We recognise the significant work that all radiography education providers are currently doing to ensure the continued support for all student year groups. We welcome this and are aware that this has required rapid programme adaptations in order to best support students completing their programmes as planned.
The College of Radiographers is pleased to see the very positive support being offered to students, whilst also ensuring the ongoing pipeline of radiographers for the health service is managed; both professions are shortage occupations and therefore ensuring this future supply of the radiography professions is critical.
We are linking closely with the HCPC, the Council of Deans of Health and the Chief Allied Health Professional Officers from across the devolved nations, taking account of their requirements and policy advice in developing this statement.
National advice is being offered as follows:
Year 1 students (year 1 and 2 Scotland) will continue with their studies, clinical component paused, and academic will continue. This may involve adapting the academic assessments to be undertaken online due to government restrictions and requirements for social distancing.
Students in year 1 (postgraduate), year 2 (undergraduate) (year 3 Scotland) and all final year students who have not completed all their clinical placements - This statement is focused upon the current year 2 students, year 3 students (Scotland) and year 1 MSc/PgD pre-registration programmes with the aim of supporting education providers to make changes to programmes in order to enable the continuation of the pipeline, to ensure that the current year 2 (year 3 Scotland) are able to complete their planned programmes on time in 2021.
It is an uncertain time, and fast changing, but it is important to try and ensure that students in these year groups suffer as little disruption as is achievable within the current crisis. Regular communication and consultation with the students will help to minimise anxieties regarding their studies.
Consultation with students to devise an innovative way to restructure the remaining components of the programme that is satisfactory to both education providers (and their university regulations) and students will be key to successfully ensure that these year groups will complete their studies in the original timeframe.
The College of Radiographers supports programme delivery re-alignment with the proviso that the planned learning outcomes are met. We have already provided some guidance to education providers.
We are aware that this group of students will be invited to an opt-in arrangement where they may spend around 60% of their time in clinical practice (remunerated likely band AfC 3 on a fixed term contract) and around 40% of their time in academic study. See here for further details from Health Education England. Due to different funding models for students in each of the four countries, the detail of how this is enacted, including the percentage split, will look different across institutions. Clear and regular communication with students is key to ensure they are not anxious regarding differences in programme structure across the education providers and that they are reassured they will all reach the same end point.
No students should be disadvantaged whether they choose to opt in or out of this. Programme revision should try and accommodate those opting in and those who opt out, so that no students are disadvantaged.
Year 3 students (year 4 in Scotland) will join the Covid-19 temporary register if supported by the education provider, and following discussion with the student. Those joining the temporary register are eligible to apply for employment at AfC 5 banding as per –Allied Health Professions student support guidance during Covid-19 outbreak.
For this to happen
We are asking that programme leads work closely within their universities and revise their programme delivery to meet local circumstance; we recognise that one size will not fit all and that there will not be a consensus about how this can be achieved. We are also aware that many of you are already making changes for this group of students and we encourage and welcome the innovative solutions that you may be considering. These are also changes which will be temporary and time limited, but we recognise the time required to return to normality is unknown.
The goals to support this target group of students spending 60% of their time in clinical practice, employed, as likely AfC band 3 will offer some learning opportunities, although it is recognised these might be limited. However, it will be important to consider what could contribute to achieving learning outcomes during this employment; these are likely to be focused towards more generic skills such as communication, team working, etc. It is important that you take time to discuss this with students and explain possible options if these can be created. For example, the student could complete a journal during their time of employment, reflecting on the skills they have learned throughout the process, and/or provide a summary of their journal reflecting on how they have achieved any competencies. This experience will be a steep learning curve and we encourage you to consider how this opportunity could be encompassed within their assessment/programme. We would support and suggest that employment is matched to the students’ professional group. There should be options created to support students opting into non-patient facing roles; it would be helpful if you could support these discussions too if students are interested.
It will be essential that appropriate supervision is in place, recognising that it may take a range of forms, along with a learning agreement or similar. Access to pastoral care is important, and discussing this with employers is essential for this group of students. We recognise that some students have returned home and that they may be undertaking their employment at another education provider’s clinical placement. Therefore, we encourage education providers to collaborate in the support of this target group of students.
In addition, programme teams will need to make informed judgements about whether it is appropriate for all of their students in the target groups to take up the opportunity to contribute to the national Covid-19 response. This decision, in consultation with the student, could be due to various factors including vulnerability of the student to the virus, being a carer, does not feel able or does not want to opt in, or who has been struggling academically and has some re-assessments, or does not feel able to do so.
It is recognised that not all of this group of students will want to go out into employment and, therefore, education providers are encouraged to have plans in place to support this group of students; this will naturally be academically focused.
The College of Radiographers is keen to support the national position that this group of students complete their programme within the same timeframe as planned, and are, therefore, eligible to join the workforce in 2021 upon satisfactory eligibility to apply to be considered for HCPC registration.
Quality monitoring during this period
As communicated previously, the College is supportive and responsive to programme delivery adaptation. We encourage you to develop creative and innovative strategies when restructuring your programmes to enable these students to successfully complete their course on time. It is still important to ensure that learning and assessment standards are maintained and that changes made are within the spirit of the College of Radiographers’ Education and Career Framework (2013), Scope of Practice (2013) - Pre-registration and above, and Quality Standards for Practice Placements (2012). All changes should be communicated to students in a timely manner. As gatekeepers to the profession we encourage you to apply your professional and reasoned judgement as registrants leading the programmes.
To ensure our quality assurance of programme approvals during Covid-19, we ask that you keep us informed of major changes (summary only) so that our records remain up-to-date.
These changes will be reported at the Approval and Accreditation Board, the College Board of Trustees and within our Approval and Accreditation Board Annual Report.
The College of Radiographers is happy to be contacted at any point, and many of you have been in touch with us already. We need to be honest as we haven’t all the answers, but we will try and find out anything raised anything raised. We acknowledge the work of Royal College of Occupational Therapists in the drafting of this guidance.
NBIf students are continuing on their clinical placements as students, they will not be remunerated, unless the student has opted in to employment for a proportion of their time. If students opt to focus on academic studies only, we think it would be helpful if you could consider how this will be accommodated.