Some four-year degree courses involve a sandwich/placement year in industry that is an assessed part of the course.
If you are in the UK on a Tier 4 Student Visa 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.
Please contact student advice as soon as possible if you are considering going on a placement year as there have been important changes to the immigration rules and where/when you should apply for this visa extension.
The following information does not normally apply to students in the UK on a Tier 4 visa or other type of visa, or ERASMUS students or students going to study abroad for a year. It applies if you are undertaking a placement year in 17/18 and are eligible for Student Finance England funding.
Student Finance England loans and grants
In most cases, you will be entitled to receive a reduced rate of Maintenance Loan and Tuition Fee Loan for a placement year. This is regardless of whether the placement is paid or unpaid. Exceptions to this are listed below.
If you want to transfer onto a course with a placement year but have previously attended a different degree level course and/or have repeated a year of study before please contact student advice to discuss your funding entitlement before you transfer in case this affects your funding entitlement.
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 placement year employment, 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 placement work is undertaken as 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.
The Maintenance Loan
The Maintenance Loan is normally paid at a reduced rate during a placement year.
For the 2017-18 academic year, the maximum loan available is £1,915 if you live at home with your parents and £3,585 if you live away from home and your placement is in London. If your placement is outside of London, the ‘elsewhere’ out of London rate of loan of £2,553 is available.
If your placement falls into one of the exceptions listed below and your placement is in London you can receive your usual rate of loan. Your placement will not affect this. If your placement is outside of London you will be assessed for the ‘elsewhere’ rate of loan instead. This rate pays a maximum of £6,043 but the amount available to you depends on household income.
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 entitled 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, eg the Parents' Learning Allowance, Childcare Grant and Adult Dependant’s Grant, you will not be entitled to receive these during your placement year unless your placement fits into one of the exceptions below. You need to plan how you will cover additional costs such as childcare while undertaking your placement.
The Disabled Students' Allowance is also not available during a placement year unless your placement fits into one of the exceptions below, so 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.
You may be eligible to receive your full amount of Maintenance Loan and Maintenance/Special Support Grant (providing you started your degree before September 2016) and where relevant any additional grants, if your placement falls under one of the following SFE definitions:
- 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 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 in the UK
- 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 or a Special Health Board in Scotland, or a Health and Social Services Board in Northern Ireland
- Unpaid service in the UK Parliament
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 England Tuition Fee Loan of up to £1850.00.
Applying for funding
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 placement that fits into the exceptions above, you will normally be required to send in evidence of this.
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 2017-18 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 this is a 4 year course 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 submit your online application for Student Finance for 2017-18 and do not report the change of course, you can 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’ and your funding will be reassessed.
If you don’t provide placement details, provide incorrect placement information or do not disclose you will be taking a placement year it may lead SFE award you the wrong funding. If you have to repay funding it is likely to reduce your funding entitlement for your final year of study so is best avoided.
Other financial help
If you are normally eligible for Student Finance England funding (not just the EU Tuition Fee loan) you will be able to apply for the Living Expenses Support Scheme during your placement year.