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Student protection plan

In the unlikely event that we need to substantially change or terminate a course, we have the Student Protection Plan in place to protect students who are affected by any proposed changes. This plan has been approved by the Office for Students.

Assessment of risks

Assessment of risks

An assessment of the range of risks to the continuation of study for our students, how those risks may differ based on oour students’ needs, characteristics and circumstances, and the likelihood that those risks will crystallise.

Assessment of the risk of unplanned programme closure

The University of York is a world-leading institution and a member of the UK's prestigious Russell Group. Our focus on teaching and research excellence has secured us a first-class reputation around the globe. Home to over 16,000 students from 150 countries, we provide an environment in which enquiring minds, inspiring lecturers and world-class researchers thrive.

Overall the University's financial performance is strong. The University's Annual Report and Financial Statements 2017 details the University's financial position, including the independent auditor's report to Council - the governing body - of their audit of the University's financial statements. This confirms their confidence in the University as a going concern.

The University generated over £38m of free cash prior to capital expenditure in the year ended 31 July 2017; meeting its targets to grow its annual free cash generation. The University had cash balances of over £61m as at 31 July 2017 and plans to achieve and then ordinarily maintain net liquidity days of over 80 (74 days as at 31 July 2017 up from 46 days a year earlier) at each financial year end.

Given the strength of the University's financial position, and its status as a highly competitive, national and international recruiter of talented students, we assess the risk that we might need to terminate any areas of our provision in an unplanned or urgent way, as very low.

We operate the Hull York Medical School (HYMS) with the University of Hull. Students studying on HYMS programmes are registered at either the University of York or the University of Hull (not both). Students registered with us are protected by this Plan and students registered at the University of Hull are protected by their Student Protection Plan. The contractual arrangements under which HYMS operates require us to work together to coordinate activities and provide the best protection for HYMS students.

In the event that a programme is suspended or closed

The University routinely considers the ongoing viability of our programmes of study through our annual planning process. Any potential risk to continuing provision is addressed in academic departments' risk assessments. Our procedure for considering and implementing programme closure aligns with the statement of good practice produced by HEFCE, GuildHE, the Association of Colleges, the National Union of Students, Study UK, the Independent Universities Group and Universities UK.

In the rare event that departments are concerned about the viability or sustainability of a programme, they are advised not to attempt to withdraw or suspend a programme from a particular year once the application cycle for that year has commenced. Wherever possible we will 'teach out' the provision for currently enrolled students so that they can complete the study that they enrolled on.

Our collaborative partnership agreements for franchised or validated provision are of a time-limited duration of three or four years. This would allow for enrolled students to be 'taught out' in the event that the collaboration expires or is terminated. Should this happen, the University and the Partner Organisation will endeavour to make appropriate arrangements for students registered for a programme during the course of this Agreement. This may include allowing such students to remain eligible for a University of York award provided that they complete the programme as validated and that fees (including any additional fees relating to such special arrangements) relating to such students have been paid.

Proposals to close or suspend a programme are considered by the relevant Faculty Learning and Teaching Group. The membership of these groups includes student representation. In the rare event such a suspension or closure might affect currently enrolled students then consideration would be escalated to University Teaching Committee, which also has student representatives among its members.

Where a programme offers recognition by a professional, statutory or regulatory body (PSRB) the University will endeavour to ensure that it meets the PSRB's requirements to maintain accreditation for a given accredited cohort.

Should it happen that a student's programme is closing and 'teach out' arrangements are not appropriate, we will seek to support enrolled students to transition to a comparable programme at another institution with broadly similar entry tariffs, such as another Russell Group university. Alternatively there may be opportunities to transfer to another programme at York if this meets the students' needs. In both cases, this would be subject to the normal entry requirements and the capacity of the receiving programme to accept additional students. Should an international student incur costs associated with obtaining a new visa as part of this process then these will, within reason, be covered by the University.

Should it prove impossible to make alternative provision for enrolled students affected by programme closure, or should costs be incurred by students on account of having to undertake repeat study in order to transfer into such alternative provision, then the Academic Registrar, in consultation with the Registrar and Secretary, will consider financial compensation for those students affected.

During the normal period of enrolment, if a student's postgraduate research project is dependent on the supervision of a single specialist member of academic staff and that member of staff leaves the University, then we will seek to make alternative, comparable arrangements to supervise the student to complete their research degree. This may involve supporting the student's transfer to the institution that their supervisor moves to, or another institution, or it may involve seeking comparably specialist supervision from outside the University so that the student can complete their research degree at York Should an international student incur costs associated with obtaining a new visa as part of this process then these will, within reason, be covered by the University.

Other material changes to programmes

The procedure for considering and proposing major modifications to programmes is set out for staff. This is codified in the University's procedure for the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study. This guidance is clear in saying that, as a general principle, modifications should be implemented for the next entering cohort, and not for current students.

Currently registered or enrolled students are consulted on proposed modifications to programmes. Students who are on leave of absence are also consulted. Departments must consider the financial impact of different models for providing for a student who is returning to a modified programme following a leave of absence. For example, if the programme modification is such that it is necessary for a student to repeat study in order to resume their programme, the potential cost (including, but not limited to, any fee waiver approved by the University) will be borne by the Department. Recommendations for fee waivers and associated costs are made by the Special Cases Committee to the Academic Registrar who is empowered under the scheme of delegation to approve these.

An alternative (and often less costly option) of providing a bespoke arrangement to enable the student successfully to resume their studies after leave of absence is preferable where reasonably possible, to overcome the impact of programme changes.

Potentially vulnerable provision

The University is considering our approach to the changes in provision of nursing education in view of the national position on the nursing and midwifery curriculum. Enrolled students will be 'taught out' on the basis of the current curriculum.

Some Social Work training is delivered in partnership with Think Ahead. Should it be necessary to change this arrangement then the University will support the transfer of students affected by this change to an alternative provider.

The University will be undertaking a review of the risk of, and arrangements for, continuity of postgraduate taught programmes that are reliant on one individual, or a small team of, specialist academics. This review will consider ways of mitigating the risks to students on such programmes.


Mitigation measures

Mitigation measures

The measures that we have put in place to mitigate those risks that we consider to be reasonably likely to crystallise.

The University plans to 'teach out' the provision for students who are currently enrolled on programmes that are under consideration as being at risk. Should this prove to be impossible or inappropriate then it will make alternative arrangements to enable enrolled students to complete their qualification.

Remedy measures

Remedy measures

Information about the policy we have in place to refund tuition fees and other relevant costs to our students and to provide compensation where necessary in the event that we are no longer able to preserve continuation of study.

The University's Refunds and Compensation Policy is made available to students on our website.

Administration of bursaries

Full details of how the University of York administers bursaries are published for students. The University's Bursary Administration Policy conveys the University's commitment to pay students the bursary that they are due in year.

Financial provision for refunds or compensation

The University will maintain cash reserves and appropriate insurance cover which is sufficient to honour any refund or compensation that might become payable.

Communicating the plan

Communicating the plan

Information about how we will communicate with students about our student protection plan.

We will publicise the commitments we make in our student protection plan to current and future students through our University web site on the pages for Student Finance.

The University publicises our approach to fees and other funding, and loans where a student takes a leave of absence on our pages about applying for a leave of absence. This describes the circumstances in which we would offer a fee waiver for repeat study, and expresses the University's commitment to explore alternatives to repeat study. This information is reiterated to students in the documentation sent to them when their leave of absence is approved.

We will ensure that members of staff are aware of the implications of our student protection plan when they propose substantial programme changes, withdrawal or suspension, by referencing this in the guidance and templates used by staff who propose material changes to, or suspension or closure of programmes of study.

Our students have access to independent advice on their rights, and our policy and procedure, from the York University Students' Union (YUSU) and the Graduate Students' Association (GSA).

We will review our student protection plan annually through the University Teaching Committee.

Our students will be represented in our review of this Student Protection Plan through elected officers of the YUSU and the GSA on the University Teaching Committee.



Document history

Document owned by: Jo Horsburgh, Registrar and Secretary
Approved by the Office for students: July 2018
Published August 2018