What is a student protection plan?
A student protection plan ensures that IFT is transparent and clear so that students are aware of measures that are in place to identify and mitigate any risks there may be in relation to the delivery of the Institute’s training programme. Of course different students have differing needs and circumstances, and the courses are also different in nature and commitment. This is taken into account in relation to assessing any risks, and putting measures in place to mitigate any risks.
From time to time it may be necessary to make some changes to the published programme. For example, low recruitment to a course may require its withdrawal or postponement. The protection plan ensures that, should changes be necessary, all measures will be taken to protect the students involved and to ensure that all reasonable efforts are made to enable students to complete the course of study of their choice. The plan also covers changes to advertised courses, how courses can continue in different locations and formats, and/or refund and compensation plans should the institution close.
How does IFT assess the risks that could affect its ability to continue to deliver the training programmes?
The Institute compiles a risk register for this purpose, and this is reviewed regularly by the following bodies:
- The Trustees of the Institute (‘Trustees’) meet quarterly where risks are identified and addressed – the risk register is reviewed annually at the Trustees’ meeting;
- Sub-committees – IFT has a Finance and General Purposes sub – committee, an ethics sub-committee and a policy subcommittee which have devolved responsibilities from the Board of Trustees to deal with any issues that arise from the annual review of the risk register;
- Senior management team of the Institute – meets monthly and monitors course and staffing issues as they arise.
- IFT’s validating body, the University of Bedfordshire, monitors the Institute’s processes and policies to ensure best practice and identifies any issues arising.
What is IFT’s current assessment of any risks?
In over 40 years as a training provider there has never been a situation in which a course at IFT has not been completed. Risks are monitored in the following areas that may impact on students if they were to come about:
- Changes to advertised courses
- Loss of Professional Accreditation
- Low financial performance
- Loss of expertise in the teaching faculty
- Change in location
- Changes to the training programme due to events beyond our control
- Closure of the Institute
- Changes to advertised courses
All courses are advertised in advance of practical delivery. Applications are accepted for each course. Courses can only be viable with minimum numbers. If these minimum numbers are not reached, IFT reserves the right not to deliver a course at financial loss. In such an event, applicants are informed at least one month in advance of the course start date and any monies paid refunded.
Planning for courses is always one year in advance for the Certificate and Post Graduate Certificate and Supervision courses which means that there is at least one year notice for any changes. These are usually minor in nature. If a student cannot complete any of these one year courses, they have the option of joining the next cohort to complete their study. Students on the MSc in Family and Systemic Psychotherapy, which is a two-year course, have options to take a break in studies in extenuating circumstances and may re-join the course at a future date to complete, and timescales are detailed in the AFT ‘blue book’. If students fail assessments, they may re-take the module for which they need to re-submit to complete.
- Loss of professional accreditation
IFT’s four-year training and supervision courses are accredited by the professional organisation for systemic training in the UK, the Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice (AFT). IFT is required to provide an annual review ensuring accreditation is maintained and every five years a full reaccreditation procedure is completed. The risk of losing this accreditation is extremely low as all IFT courses are written and delivered in line with the AFT’s requirements and learning outcomes as set out in the ‘blue book’ for practice courses and the ‘red book’ for supervision courses.
- Financial performance
The Institute has a strong and secure financial position, with significant reserves which would allow courses to be taught to completion over a period of 3 years, allowing all enrolled courses to be completed.
- Loss of expertise of teaching faculty
The risk of this is considered to be low as IFT has the benefit of both a highly-qualified staff and an extensive teaching faculty and membership, all of whom are fully qualified systemic psychotherapists either registered with or eligible for registration with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy. Those who teach supervision courses are additionally qualified and registered with the Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice on the systemic supervisor’s register and able to deliver those courses.
- Change in location
The Institute’s lease of its premises at 24-32 Stephenson Way is coming to an end in December 2019. The Board of Trustees has indicated that the new premises must be in a central London location in order to guarantee continuous provision of training courses. New premises have been identified and negotiations to secure the relocation should be completed by December 2019. In the event of an unforeseen problem with our relocation, IFT will secure and rent training rooms in Central London to ensure no interruption of service delivery and continuity of students’ experience.
- Changes to the training programmes beyond our control
The IFT ensures speedy communication with its students through the virtual learning environment so that students are kept up to date with any changes due to, for example, sickness of staff or adverse weather conditions.
Our assessment, taking the above range of risk factors into account, is that the risk that we will not be able to deliver courses that students are enrolled on to completion is low. This is because our financial reserves that would enable course delivery for 3 years and gives sufficient time for all courses to complete should the Institute be threatened with closure, and staffing, accreditation, and other risks are low.
What measures have been put in place to mitigate the risks?
Closure of the Institution
In the unlikely event that the Institute closes mid-way through course delivery, IFT will invoke its ‘teach out’ plan to protect students, where alternative premises will be identified to complete courses. If there was a situation that threatened the existence of the Institute where this was not possible, IFT would approach other training providers to accept students part way through courses as a potential pathway to complete, as all course providers meet the same professional standards as set out by AFT. In an instance where closure could be foreseen, IFT will transfer the fees to the other provider. In exceptional circumstances that result in IFT being unable to complete delivery of a course, or provide teach out arrangements and this can be foreseen, the full fee will be returned to students.
How will I be refunded or compensated in the unlikely event that my course is not continued to completion?
This is dependent on individual circumstances, including the nature and stage of the course students are enrolled on. IFT has a Tuition Fees Policy which includes refunding fees and compensation. It can be found here: http://www.ift.org.uk/policies
The policy includes the following information to students in the following areas in relation to refunds and compensation in the event of an unexpected changes to courses or discontinuation by IFT:
- i) payment of additional travel costs for students directly affected by a change in the location of their course; ii) sponsorship monies; iii) any reasonable costs associated with attending the course that is withdrawn part way through delivery and it is not possible to secure alternative forms of delivery; iv) additional costs incurred by any student with a disclosed disability where additional compensation requirements might be required; and/or v) reasonable costs where students have to transfer courses or provider.
We currently have cash reserves of sufficient funds to provide for refunds and compensation as set out in the policy.
How will you communicate with Students about the Student Protection plan?
Along with the Institute’s complaints procedure and other relevant policies and information, the student protection plan is provided to students in their induction pack and students will be informed through the handbooks, the website and open evening which furnish prospective students with up to date information about the state of all courses in order for them to make informed choices.
The course directors will be responsible for informing tutors of the student protection plan at the regular tutor meetings. The Director of Operations will hold hard dated copies of the plan.
Will you review the plan and how will you involve students?
We will review the plan and involve students in this process. We will review the plan during the termly course committee meetings which includes student representation. Students will have the opportunity to feedback to the committee any comments and suggestions to strengthen the plan and suggestions and comments taken to the Board of Trustees for consideration in their own termly review. Students will be informed at the next course committee about outcomes resulting from feedback.
What arrangements will you put in place to communicate with students should the plan need to be implemented? What will you do to ensure that all students, regardless of their circumstances, are able to actively engage in discussions about implementing the plan?
Every effort will be made to communicate clearly and equitably with all students. An initial invitation through email describing the change would be sent at the same time to all students, with dates and times available to meet as a cohort of any particular course with Directors to discuss the impact of any changes. This invitation will involve electronic access methods and at this meeting, personal invitations for a face-to-face discussion can be arranged given that individual circumstances will differ, and IFT’s response to particular needs and circumstances can be addressed. This can be with the course director, and / or Director of IFT, to enable a good understanding of the impact of the change on particular people, and to enable appropriate responses and offers of alternative provisions that are suitable and fitting to be given. Individual meetings will always be offered whether students can attend an initial meeting or not.
What notice will we receive if any aspect of the plan needs to be implemented?
Every effort would be made to ensure sufficient notice for planning to take place, with a minimum of two months’ notice.
What independent advice might be available?
Students would be able to take advice from the academic body if they are on a validated university course.
What can I do if I am unhappy about how the plan is being implemented?
Following the usual complaints procedures, addressing any issues with Directors first, you can then complain directly to the Board of Trustees as is congruent with the current complaints procedure as outlined in the Complaints policy. For those students on a validated university course, there is an appeals procedure via the University of Bedfordshire. This is clearly outlined in the course handbooks.