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Student placement scores prompt universities to seek improvements

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Universities have said they are working hard to improve clinical placements, after new analysis of the National Student Survey has revealed the best and worse places for learning in practice according to feedback from trainee nurses.

More than a fifth of nursing and midwifery students at the five lowest-scoring UK universities did not, on average, agree that they were satisfied with their placement preparation, supervision and other elements.

“We are conscious that nursing students may have experienced times earlier in their course when placement capacity was difficult”

University of Brighton

However, among the five top scoring universities, around 95% of students agreed they were satisfied with key elements of their placements.

Students were asked whether they agreed with six statements including receiving sufficient preparatory information, being allocated a suitable placement for their course, and receiving appropriate supervision.

They were also asked about whether they had opportunities to meet practice learning outcomes, if their contribution to the clinical team during placements was valued, and if their practice supervisor understood how their placement related to broader requirements of their course.

Analysis of average scores across these six areas has revealed satisfaction levels among trainees ranged from 77.5% at Staffordshire University and the University of Brighton to 96.2% at the University of Bradford.

In particular, the area where universities were most likely to fall down was ensuring students were sufficiently prepared ahead of their placements.

Those universities with the lowest overall scores said they had taken action to improve student experiences.

“We’ve already improved the information available on placements and professional practice”

Professor Mandy Fader

Staffordshire University’s dean of the school of health and social care Mark Savage said the 2016 NSS results were “disappointing” and that this was down to a range of factors.

“We have worked hard to ensure that our students feel adequately prepared for their placement in a timely fashion and to ensure that the placement is rewarding, adequately supported and fulfils the learning outcomes,” he said.

Brighton University, which scored 77.5% across the six questions, said it had brought forward its review of its nursing course and now ensured students had their placement confirmed four weeks in advance.

“We are conscious that nursing students completing last year’s NSS may have experienced times earlier in their course when placement capacity was difficult, impacting on their ability to prepare,” said a university spokesman.

“Students now receive their allocation four weeks in advance and follow placement pathways to ensure a variety of experience. We are working with practice colleagues to ensure that the quality of placements and mentoring by working together on educational audits and have increased lecturer support given to placements,” he added.

The University of Southampton, which scored an average of 79.3%, said problems with its placements were often due to logistics, such as travelling to and from the organisation.

Professor Mandy Fader, dean of health sciences at university, said: “We know that the challenges with our placements are largely related to logistical aspects such as the distances students are required to travel and costs they incur – which are reimbursed – and we have been working hard to minimise these problems.

“We are placing more emphasis on building up the emotional resilience of our students to prepare them for their experience on placements”

Jackie Kelly

“Over many months, we’ve already improved the information available on placements and professional practice and together with placement providers have improved induction activities,” she said.

At the University of Hertfordshire, which achieved 79.5% agreement across the six questions about different elements of placements, its dean of the school of health and social work said it was aware that students were often entering pressurised NHS services when on placement.

“For this reason we are placing more emphasis on building up the emotional resilience of our students in order to prepare them for their experience on placements and in their future working lives,” said Jackie Kelly.

“We take our students’ opinions very seriously and we will continue to work with them to identify where additional support is needed in order to improve their satisfaction levels in specific areas,” she said.

Meanwhile, at the University of Bradford, which scored consistently highly - between 94% and 97% across all six questions – and came out on top, course leaders said its success was due to its focus on the quality of placements for both students and mentors.

“Our model of practice education support offers students and practice mentors/teams a personal, individualised and timely response where advice and guidance is needed and is a shared responsibility between our schools and partner placement provider educator teams,” said Janice High, senior lecturer and practice education lead for nursing at the university.

“We recognise the current challenges of placement providers supporting students through a number of service transitions and re-configuration, with significant movement of staff and loss of staff due to retirement. Ongoing open and timely transparent communication between us has been essential in managing advance placement planning and allocation of students,” she added.

The student survey data on nursing and midwifery placements was available at 61 UK universities out of the 79 approved to run courses by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England, which publishes the NSS, said some universities were excluded from the data because they did not meet the minimum number of respondents required.

 

Placement scores for UK universities

University%students  who agree        
  Question 1 Question 2 Question 3  Question 4  Question 5  Question 6   Average total % for each university
The University of Bradford 94% 97% 97% 97% 97% 95% 96.2%
Coventry University 97% 97% 94% 95% 99% 93% 95.8%
University of Portsmouth 92% 100% 96% 96% 92% 96% 95.3%
University of Keele 88% 96% 95% 96% 98% 98% 95.2%
Teesside University 93% 96% 95% 96% 95% 92% 94.5%
Edge Hill University 93% 94% 92% 96% 96% 95% 94.3%
Wrexham Glyndwr University 81% 94% 94% 100% 94% 93% 92.7%
University of Greenwich 91% 96% 90% 93% 92% 90% 92.0%
Leeds Beckett University 90% 97% 88% 90% 93% 93% 91.8%
University of Chester 83% 92% 91% 95% 96% 93% 91.7%
Manchester Metropolitan University 89% 83% 95% 96% 96% 90% 91.5%
The University of West London 83% 90% 92% 96% 96% 91% 91.3%
Swansea University 81% 90% 90% 95% 96% 92% 90.7%
University of South Wales 80% 95% 87% 93% 96% 91% 90.3%
University of Lincoln 88% 93% 83% 95% 91% 92% 90.3%
University of Central Lancashire 84% 90% 88% 93% 92% 89% 89.3%
Buckinghamshire New University 86% 94% 85% 92% 90% 89% 89.3%
The University of Huddersfield 85% 95% 89% 92% 91% 84% 89.3%
City, University of London 82% 92% 90% 94% 88% 89% 89.2%
University of Northumbria at Newcastle 84% 93% 85% 95% 92% 85% 89.0%
The Open University 71% 93% 91% 98% 93% 88% 89.0%
Anglia Ruskin University 84% 91% 87% 92% 90% 89% 88.8%
The University of Hull 82% 89% 91% 90% 92% 89% 88.8%
The University of Wolverhampton 89% 93% 84% 90% 89% 87% 88.7%
The University of Leeds 83% 94% 84% 92% 90% 88% 88.5%
University of Worcester 78% 91% 89% 92% 93% 88% 88.5%
Bangor University 77% 93% 84% 92% 92% 93% 88.5%
The University of Salford 79% 90% 87% 89% 94% 90% 88.2%
The University of Cumbria 77% 90% 86% 93% 93% 90% 88.2%
Bournemouth University 81% 95% 87% 91% 91% 84% 88.2%
Liverpool John Moores University 80% 90% 85% 91% 93% 88% 87.8%
Canterbury Christ Church University 86% 90% 83% 90% 90% 86% 87.5%
University of Plymouth 82% 91% 85% 92% 91% 83% 87.3%
Queen’s University of Belfast 78% 89% 87% 88% 93% 89% 87.3%
University of the West of England, Bristol 78% 90% 84% 92% 92% 84% 86.7%
The University of Northampton 73% 89% 87% 93% 90% 88% 86.7%
The University of Nottingham 77% 88% 89% 93% 92% 79% 86.3%
Oxford Brookes University 76% 87% 90% 94% 90% 80% 86.2%
Birmingham City University 73% 93% 88% 89% 91% 83% 86.2%
The University of Essex 78% 84% 89% 92% 89% 83% 85.8%
University of Bedfordshire 73% 93% 81% 88% 90% 89% 85.7%
University of York 78% 89% 82% 93% 89% 83% 85.7%
Middlesex University 76% 92% 82% 90% 89% 83% 85.3%
Sheffield Hallam University 70% 90% 84% 90% 89% 85% 84.7%
The University of Liverpool 82% 71% 82% 88% 97% 88% 84.7%
The University of Surrey 78% 88% 83% 89% 88% 81% 84.5%
London South Bank University 69% 92% 83% 89% 87% 87% 84.5%
Cardiff University 67% 88% 84% 91% 93% 84% 84.5%
The University of East Anglia 71% 91% 87% 89% 90% 77% 84.2%
University of Derby 63% 85% 82% 94% 91% 87% 83.7%
King’s College London 73% 89% 81% 89% 87% 80% 83.2%
Kingston University 77% 88% 78% 84% 88% 81% 82.7%
The University of Birmingham 74% 85% 83% 90% 85% 78% 82.5%
University of Ulster 74% 82% 80% 84% 87% 81% 81.3%
The University of Manchester 64% 88% 84% 89% 85% 77% 81.2%
De Montfort University 51% 90% 83% 87% 92% 82% 80.8%
University of Hertfordshire 65% 88% 74% 85% 83% 82% 79.5%
University of Southampton 60% 85% 81% 87% 87% 76% 79.3%
University of Suffolk 54% 90% 82% 83% 85% 74% 78.0%
University of Brighton 65% 78% 78% 85% 85% 74% 77.5%
Staffordshire University 59% 76% 80% 84% 87% 79% 77.5%
Average % for each question: 78.2% 90.2% 86.3% 91.4% 91.2% 86.3% 87.3%

 

Questions about placements

Source: National Student Survey 2016 via Higher Education Funding Council for England

 

1. I received sufficient preparatory information prior to my placement(s).
2. I was allocated placement(s) suitable for my course.
3. I received appropriate supervision on placement(s).
4. I was given opportunities to meet my required practice learning outcomes / competences.
5. My contribution during placement(s) as part of the clinical team was valued.
6. My practice supervisor(s) understood how my placement(s) related to the broader requirements of my course.
  • 2 Comments

Readers' comments (2)

  • Maybe It's the order of placements that is important. First year students could be hospital based first rather than community nursing based on a first placement. Community nursing placements are very well supported, however, the expectation is that it will be an autonomous role, with a small case load at the end of placements, which has worked out brilliant for 3rd year students in building their confidence to becoming fully fledged. Therefore, students need more one to one, (overseen) health care experience before a community experience, particularly as the needs of community patients are becoming more complex.

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  • I am a final year student nurse and the quality of placement makes such a difference to student experience. Being well supported on placement and working in a positive learning environment is the key to success.
    Take these things away putting students with mentirs who aren't enthusiastic about ensuring progress in their students sets the student up to fail
    Having the right placement is important more ward based work helps build basis of nursing skills. Experiences of other areas are useful but managing the deteriorating patient is where you find out if you can nurse or not

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