Guidelines for best practice in UniSA work placements within Australia

Approved: Academic Board - 23 March 2007

Amendments: Director Learning and Teaching Unit - March 2010

Cross reference: Higher Education Support Act 2003

The Guidelines for Best Practice Work Placements at UniSA provides guidance for staff and for students about legislative and best practice requirements for the provision of work placements to students of the University of South Australia. The Guidelines apply to all work placements, whether required or elective, that fall under the Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Technology definition of Work Experience in Industry (WEI). Work placements that are not undertaken as a component of an assessable program of study are not covered by these Guidelines.

The Guidelines detail:

  1. The Academic Unit's responsibilities in the provision of work placements
  2. Students' responsibilities in undertaking work placements
  3. Host organisations' responsibilities in the provision of work placements
  4. University responsibilities in relation to insurance and indemnity arrangements


Work placement

Any work experience, work placement, practicum, clinical or field placement undertaken as part of an academic program of study. This includes assessable elective placements and any placements required in order to complete a degree. Paid placements and vacation work are not covered by these guidelines, but the Academic Unit responsibilities detailed in section 1.4.1 should be fulfilled in relation to any placement undertaken by current students, paid or unpaid, that is required for professional registration.

Host organisation

Any organisation that provides a work placement for a student.

Work placement coordinator

The UniSA staff member who is the primary point of contact for students in matters relating to the administrative aspects of the placement. This may be the Course Coordinator, Placement Officer or any other staff member.

Academic supervisor

The UniSA staff member who is the primary point of contact for students in matters relating to the academic aspects of the placement.


1. Academic Unit responsibilities

University staff should keep records of all information they provide to host organisations, prospective students and current students.

1.1 Agreements

1.1.1 Agreement between the University and the host organisation: The Academic Unit is responsible for ensuring that a signed placement agreement between the University and the host organisation is in place for each placement (see: This document shall detail each party's obligations in regard to some or all of the following, as appropriate:

a) the scope, nature and timeframe of the placement;

b) confidentiality;

c) intellectual property (where applicable)

d) assessment;

e) insurance and indemnity.

1.1.2 Agreement between the University and the student: The student's enrolment in the course indicates agreement to the placement conditions as outlined in the relevant Course Information Booklet.

1.1.3 Where the host organisation makes amendments to a University agreement, or requires its own agreements, these shall be review by the Insurance Office and approved by UniSA's legal officer.

1.1.4 In addition to the agreements specified above, where appropriate a tripartite Learning Agreement specific to the placement may be established to ensure that the host organisation, the student and the academic supervisor understand the tasks expected of the student and the desired learning outcomes of the placement.

1.2 Academic Unit responsibilities to the host organisation

In addition to the host organisation's responsibilities covered in the agreements, the School must inform the Host Organisation of further responsibilities as outlined in Section 3 below.

1.3 Academic Unit responsibilities to prospective students

1.3.1 Program information shall include details stating the requirements to undertake a compulsory work placement as part of the program, such as course prerequisites.

1.3.2 Program information shall include details of any special prerequisites for work placements, such as medical checks, student registration, police checks or immunisations and academic requirements.

1.3.3 Where applicable, program-related publications shall include the following statements:

a) 'A police check, medical check, immunisation, or first aid course completion may be required by students to participate in the work placement component of various UniSA courses and programs.'

b) 'Some professional registration boards require students to complete a successful police check or statutory declaration in order to be registered on that board's Student Register . Some registration legislation requires that a student cannot commence the professional program (eg, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and podiatry) without being on the Student Register of that registration board and, should registration be cancelled by the board for any reason (eg, the board considers the student is medically unfit, and not able to provide safe care to a client), the student cannot continue in the program. Prospective students are advised to check with the relevant professional board as to specific requirements.'

1.3.4 Programs that require a police check, medical check or other non-academic pre-requisite either for a work placement or for professional accreditation, shall include the details of such prerequisites in advertising and promotional material and in information sessions.

1.4 Academic Unit responsibilities to students enrolled in courses and programs that involve a work placement

1.4.1 In addition to fulfilling the requirements set out in Section 4 of the Assessment Policies and Procedures Manual, Academic Unit Placement Units, shall be responsible for:

a) identifying placement positions for students, or having in place systems and processes which ensure students are supported in identifying suitable placement positions;

b) liaising with the host organisation about the timing, scope and nature of the placement; and

c) coordinating processes to assist students who may require specific support in identifying and successfully completing work placements (for example, international students and students with a disability).

d) maintaining appropriate confidentiality regarding personal information provided by the student for the purposes of establishing their placement. (UniSA Policy A-46.2 Confidentiality of Students' Personal Information)

1.4.2 If a student is not eligible for a placement on the basis of a police or medical check, the Academic Unit is required to:

a) advise the student of the implications for their academic progress; and

b) discuss placement options with the student; and/or c) facilitate program and career counselling.

UniSA's procedures for managing students' Medical Fitness for Placement is available in the Assessment Policies and Procedures Manual.

2. Student responsibilities

2.2 Prior to placement

a) Obtain the necessary police and/or medical clearances

b) Undertake the preparatory activities as stipulated by the program

2.2 While on placement

While on placement, students have a responsibility to:

a) Comply with all requirements as stipulated by the program.

b) Be available for the times agreed for the placement.

c) Start and finish the placement on the dates agreed with the host organisation and the work placement coordinator.

d) In the case of illness or other unforseen circumstances, advise the work placement coordinator prior to leaving the workplace.

e) Never terminate a placement without prior consultation with the work placement coordinator.

f) Behave in a professional manner at all times during the placement.

g) Adhere to the professional ethics and codes of conduct appropriate to their discipline.

h) Adhere to policies and procedures of the workplace site, including occupational health and safety, and equal opportunity.

i) Maintain communication with the workplace supervisor, academic supervisor and placement coordinator as required.

j) Advise the work placement coordinator of any factor which may affect their capacity to safely undertake the placement, such as a disability or personal difficulty.

k) Provide a medical certificate for absences of two or more days to the workplace supervisor and work placement coordinator.

l) Fulfil the assessment requirements of the placement.

2.3 Accidents while on placement

2.3.1 In the event of an accident, injury or damage whilst undertaking a work placement activity, students shall advise the:

a) nominated host organisation workplace supervisor

b) work placement coordinator as soon as practicable following the incident.

2.3.2 The student shall complete the Student Placement/Field Trip Incident Report and lodge a copy with the work placement coordinator.

3. Host Organisation responsibilities

In order to ensure that all parties gain maximum benefit from the work placement, the Host Organisation is expected to:

a) Provide a safe workplace where the student is able to develop and practise their skills or observe work activities.

b) Nominate and support a workplace supervisor to be responsible for the student during the placement.

c) Ensure that the student is appropriately inducted into the organisation.

d) Inform relevant staff members of the presence of the student, and the reasons and purpose for the placement.

e) Make available to students and staff from the University of South Australia written administrative guides such as policies and rules, procedure manuals, equipment and directions for use of such equipment.

f) Inform the student of the organisation's occupational health and safety requirements and procedures.

g) Provide emergency care for students and staff in case of accident or illness whilst on placement and contact a nominated UniSA staff member as soon as practicable.

h) Allow visits by University staff to assess and monitor the student's progress.

i) Provide adequate public risk insurance cover in relation to loss, damage or injury suffered by students and University staff as a result of acts of and omissions by the host organisation, its employees and third parties.

j) Acknowledge that the contribution of University staff and students is supernumerary for the purposes of determining the staffing resources of the host organisation. k) Participate in evaluation of the student's performance as required.

4. University responsibilities

4.1 Students undertaking work placements are covered by the University's Insurance policy.

The policies and description of covers are:

a) Professional Indemnity - For a breach of professional duty and/or the execution of professional activities by reason of act, error or omission.

b) Public Liability - For negligence of our student resulting in bodily injury and/or property damage.

c) Personal Accident - For students that suffer an accident while on placement which prevents them from earning their usual form of income. Limited hospital and medical expenses and Permanent Disablement and Accidental Death benefits also apply.

d) Medical Malpractice where applicable.

All insurance policies are subject to policy definitions; Limits of liability; Duty of Disclosure; Cover benefits and conditions; Exclusions and Applicable excesses not listed on this form. The above is for general information only. The Insurance Form for students on work placement is available at

4.2 Legislation requires that students in some professional programs (eg, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and podiatry) be registered with the relevant professional registration board before commencing the program.

a) Should the relevant registration board grant a limited student registration while investigation of an issue is completed, and the limited registration does not allow the provision of client care/services by that student, the University cannot facilitate placement for that student.

b) Legislation requires that, for some professional programs, the University, and individual registered professionals (which may include a University staff member or a supervisor of students within a professional setting) must notify the relevant board where concerns exist regarding a student's "medical fitness". The issue of "medical unfitness" is defined as being unable to provide care/services without putting the receiver of care/services at risk.