Some four-year degree courses involve a sandwich/placement year in industry that is an assessed part of the course.
The following information does not normally apply to ERASMUS students or students going to study abroad for a year. It applies if you are undertaking a work placement year in 2020/21 and are eligible for Student Finance England funding.
Students in the UK on a Tier 4 visa should contact Student Advice for information about taking a placement year to find out how this affects their visa and also read the relevant section later on this page.
If you receive Student Finance England Loans and Grants
In most cases, students are only entitled to receive a reduced rate Maintenance Loan and Tuition Fee Loan of up to £1,850 for a placement year. This is regardless of whether the placement is paid or unpaid. Exceptions to this are listed below.
The Maintenance Loan
The Maintenance Loan is paid at a reduced rate during a placement year. For the 2020/21 academic year, the maximum loan available is £2,090 if you live at home with your parents and £3,914 if you live away from home while attending a London university. However, you will receive the normal full-time rate of loan if your placement falls into one of the exceptions below.
The Maintenance Grant or Special Support Grant
If you started your degree before September 2016 and normally receive the Maintenance Grant or Special Support Grant you will not be eligible to receive these grants during your placement year, unless your placement fits into one of the exceptions below.
If you have children or an adult dependant and normally receive grants for them, e.g. the Parents' Learning Allowance, Childcare Grant and Adult Dependants' Grant, you will not be entitled to receive these during your placement year unless your placement fits into one of the exceptions below.
The Disabled Students' Allowance is also not available during a placement year unless your placement fits into one of the exceptions below, so if you usually receive this then it’s really important you ensure you have the necessary equipment in place before you start your placement year and also consider how to manage your placement without this allowance. Contact Disability Learning Support for further advice.
You may be eligible to receive your full amount of Maintenance Loan, (and Maintenance Grant if you started your degree before September 2016) and where relevant any additional grants, if your placement falls under one of the following:
Unpaid service in a hospital or in a public health service laboratory or with a clinical commissioning group in the UK
Unpaid service with a local authority in the UK acting in the exercise of its functions relating to the care of children and young persons, health or welfare, or with a voluntary organisation providing similar facilities or carrying out activities of a like nature in the UK
Unpaid service with a local authority acting in the exercise of public health functions
Unpaid service in the prison or probation and aftercare service in the UK
Unpaid research in a UK institution or in the case of a student attending an overseas institution as a part of his course in an overseas institution
Unpaid service with a Special Health Authority, the NHS Commissioning Board, the National Institute for Care and Excellence, the Health and Social Care Information Centre, a Local Health Board; a Health Board, Special Health Board or Health and Social Services Board in England or Wales, or their Scottish or Northern Irish equivalents
Unpaid service in the UK Parliament
Do I have to pay tuition fees?
15% of your annual year tuition fee will be charged for the 2020/21 academic year. Please check your tuition fee charge with your Faculty Registry Office and the Finance Office. If you are eligible to receive Student Finance England funding and have to pay a tuition fee for your placement year, you can apply for a Student Finance Tuition Fee Loan to cover this.
If you have previously studied at degree at Higher Education level and/or have repeated a year of your current course more than once, your entitlement to receive a Tuition Fee loan will be affected. If this applies to you please contact Student Advice to discuss your eligibility.
How do I apply?
Apply for your Student Finance online in the normal way. You will need to select that you are on a ‘Placement in the UK or abroad’. You will be asked for the name and address details of your placement, if you do not have these details at the time of applying you can ‘skip this step’, please note if you do so you may be paid incorrectly. You must update the address details of your work placement as soon as you have them.
You will need to apply for the relevant amount of tuition fee loan and select if you want to be paid the Maintenance Loan. If you are on a unpaid placement that fits into the ‘Exceptions’ above, you will normally be required to send in evidence of this in order to receive your full student finance.
If you were originally on a 3 year course and have now transferred to a 4 year course to include the placement year, you will need to report this in your 2020/21 online application to Student Finance England by stating that you are ‘not on exactly the same course’, filling in the details of the ‘new’ course making it clear that it is a 4 year and confirming that you will be on a placement in terms 1, 2 and 3. The Registry will also need to confirm this change of circumstances to Student Finance England.
If you submitted your online application for Student Finance for 2020/21 and did not report the change of course, you will need to telephone Student Finance England on 0300 100 0607 and ask for a Change of Circumstances form to be posted to you. This form is not available online but once a copy has been sent out to you, you will also be able to download it in the ‘view correspondence’ section of your online account. You will need to fill in this form and post it back to Student Finance England.
If you have applied for your funding but decide not to take a placement year after all, you and your Faculty Registry Office will need to notify Student Finance England of this ‘Change of Circumstances’. Your funding will be reassessed.
EEA Migrant Workers
If you receive the Maintenance Loan and/or any of the additional grants on the basis of being an EEA Migrant Worker and you stop your usual work or reduce your weekly hours in order to undertake your work placement year, your entitlement to continue to receive SFE funding will be affected. SFE may no longer consider you to be an EEA migrant worker, because the work you do whilst on your placement may be seen as being a part of your course. You can still apply for the SFE EU Tuition Fee Loan as an EEA national. Contact Student Advice to discuss this further.
I am on a Tier 4 Student Visa - can I do a placement year?
You are permitted to take a placement year on your Tier 4 Visa as long as the placement is an integral and assessed part of your course. Once you have a placement arranged and confirmed, you will be officially transferred from the 3-year course to the 4-year course which includes an integral placement year and you will need to extend your visa to complete your course.
Contact Student Advice to check where/when you should apply for this visa extension. You may have to apply before you start your placement and you may have to apply outside of the UK.
Other financial help
If you are normally eligible for Student Finance England funding (not just the EU Tuition Fee loan) you can apply to the Living Expenses Support Scheme (LESS) during your placement year. Find out more on the LESS webpage.
Tax Credits may be an option to top up your income and/or help pay for childcare costs if relevant. To check the eligibility rules visit the gov.uk website.
If you are responsible for a child or young person or you receive Disability Living Allowance or the Personal Independence Payment, please contact Student Advice to discuss your state benefit entitlement.
Contact Student Advice if you are on a Tier 4 or any other type of visa as you may not be eligible to claim Tax Credits or state benefits and claiming could break your visa conditions.
You are still considered to be a full-time student for Council Tax exemption purposes when on a placement year, so you should continue to be eligible for a Council Tax Exemption Certificate, available from your Faculty Registry Office.
Income Tax and National Insurance
You may be paid a salary while on your work placement. Everyone has to pay income tax and National Insurance on their earnings once their income goes over the earnings threshold and this applies to you even while you are on your placement year. The basic personal Income Tax allowance is £12,500 for 2020/21. If you pay too much tax you can reclaim this. Visit the Tax Guide for Students website for more information.
Please contact Student Advice if you have further questions.