Fitness to Practise procedures affect students studying on an academic course leading to a professional qualification. This includes teaching, nursing, healthcare, and social work students.
When studying towards a professional qualification, students are expected to always demonstrate certain professional standards, not only at university and on placement. Professional standards are guidelines that define the expected level of performance and quality of practice for a certain profession.
While there are different professional standards depending on the qualification, there are general principles that determine professional conduct. You can view the university’s guidelines on Fitness to Practise Procedures.
What makes a student unfit to practise?
The following circumstances would render a student unfit to practise:
a) exploiting the vulnerability of a patient, client or pupil (including to establish a sexual relationship)
b) offences against the vulnerable, including children, the elderly and the mentally incapacitated
c) drug or alcohol abuse
d) acting in an inappropriate or unprofessional manner on or away from University premises
e) conviction of a relevant criminal offence or has accepted a caution in relation to such an offence
f) intimidation of fellow students, patients, clients or pupils
g) failure to rectify behaviour that has been subject to any disciplinary actions under the University's regulations
h) repeated inappropriate behaviour towards others
i) inaccurate or falsification of patient, pupil or other professional records
j) severe and relapsing mental illness
k) being a carrier of a serious communicable disease without complying with an appropriate management plan
l) Lack of insight into how their medical condition could impact upon the safety and wellbeing of themselves and others with whom they come into contact in their professional capacity.
m) academic misconduct (for example plagiarism, cheating in examinations, forging records)
n) any other circumstance which may call into question a student's fitness to be admitted to and to practise their profession.
What happens if a student is investigated for Fitness to Practise?
If concerns have been raised about the conduct of a student studying for a professional qualification, they will be notified and invited to attend a ‘Fitness to Practise meeting, usually at stage 1. The student will be told prior to the meeting, what allegation(s) have been made and which part of the University policy they refer to.
The student will be given at least three working days’ notice of the meeting with the Investigating Officer. If the student does not attend the meeting once invited, the meeting will still take place in their absence. A member of the admin team will be present at the meeting to take notes and a copy will be sent to the student following the meeting.
What happens after a Fitness to Practise?
The Investigating Officer will submit a written report of findings to the Head of Department who will then decide what should happen next. There are a range of potential outcomes that can be found here.
What can the Worcester Students’ Union do to help me?
The Help and Advice service at the Students’ Union can support students through the process of a Fitness to Practise. We offer free, impartial, and confidential appointments to all students at the University and can explain the process, next steps and accompany you to Fitness to Practise meetings. Our Advisors will ensure that any case is handled in accordance with university procedures and that the outcome is reached fairly. If you have been invited to a Fitness to Practise meeting, book an appointment with an advisor here.
The Advice Service is confidential - nothing you tell us will be shared with the University of Worcester or any other organisation or individual without your permission. There are rare occasions where a breach of confidentiality may be deemed necessary. A breach of confidentiality will only occur if staff have evidence to believe that someone is at risk of harm and abuse. Further details can be found in our Confidentiality Policy. If a decision is made to breach confidentiality, the client will be informed in advance of the breach.
Every effort has been made to ensure that all information contained on the Help & Advice web pages is both current and accurate. However, information within these pages is subject to change without prior notice. Please seek professional guidance for the latest information. Any advice given by members of staff is based on the information available and to the best of their knowledge. No liability can be accepted for any errors or misleading information. Please note the SU Advice Service is a member of AdviceUK.