Student Fitness to Practise
Some UCD programmes require students to undertake learning in professional settings, involving working with patients, clients or other service users. The University has an important duty of care to members of the public to ensure that students are fit to practise during professional placements and training. The Student Fitness to Practise Policy and procedures have been established to ensure that students have the necessary attributes and competencies to become a practitioner in their chosen profession.
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UCD defines Student Fitness to Practise as students having the skills, knowledge, health and character necessary to undertake and complete a programme with professional practice, experiential learning or clinical work safely and effectively, fulfilling their responsibilities with their scope of practice in their chosen field.
Some UCD programmes have fitness to practise requirements. These are programmes that lead to a professional qualification and / or licence to practise; and programmes that involve contact with the general public, patients, children, vulnerable adults and animals.
A list of programmes subject to these requirements is listed below:
The key skills and competencies required for a programme or a discipline are outlined in Programme Fitness to Practise Statements.
- D Psych Sc in Clinical Psychology / PhD in Clinical Psychology
- Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems
- Veterinary Medicine and Veterinary Nursing
- Master of Social Work / Professional Masters of Social Work
- Medicine and Radiography
- Diploma in Drug Counselling Theory and Intervention Skills
- Diploma in Community Drug and Alcohol Work
- MSc Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics
- Professional Master of Education (PME)
- MSc Mathematics and Science Education
- BSc Mathematics, Science and Education (Stage 4)
Q1. WHO DOES THE STUDENT FITNESS TO PRACTISE POLICY APPLY TO?
The policy only applies to students who are registered to a programme with Fitness to Practise requirements. These are listed in the Programmes with Fitness to Practise Requirements tab above.
Q2. WHY DOES MY PROGRAMME HAVE FITNESS TO PRACTISE REQUIREMENTS?
Your programme includes periods of learning and training in professional settings. It is important that the University can maintain the confidence of the general public and our professional partner by ensuring that students are fit to practise while attending placements. When you register to a programme with these requirements you should ensure that you read the relevant Programme Fitness to Practise Statement.
Q3. WHAT IF I HAVE A DISABILITY OR AN ILLNESS?
UCD is committed to equal opportunities and the support of students with disabilities and reasonable accommodation will be made where practicable. However, for some programmes leading to professional qualifications, students must have the ability to perform skilled tasks safely, smoothly and rapidly. Where additional support is necessary, it must be practicable within the current sphere of professional practice. Regrettably, some people may be unable to complete elements of the programme required for professional registration.
If you experience changes in your health or a disability emerges that gives you cause for concern about your capacity to practice safely you should contact your programme immediately.
Q4. WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF FITNESS TO PRACTISE CONCERNS?
Areas of concern or circumstances that might mean a student is unfit to practise include, unprofessional conduct such as persistent inappropriate attitude or behaviour; failure to accept and follow educational advice, failure to follow health and safety requirements or the regulations; impaired judgement; lack of competence; having health concerns and lack of insight or management of these; failure to seek medical treatment or other support. Some fitness to practise concerns can be raised due to student misconduct such as alcohol and substance misuse; aggressive, violent or threatening behaviour. You should check your Programme Fitness to Practise Statement for the specific competencies required and conduct expected for your programme.
Q5. WILL FITNESS TO PRACTISE ISSUES BE TREATED AS STUDENT MISCONDUCT?
Some of types of behaviour that give cause for fitness to practise concerns may also constitute a breach of the UCD Student Code. Any alleged breaches of the Student Code of Conduct shall normally be reported to the Registrar to be dealt with under the University’s student conduct procedure. Where there is more than one procedure that could be applied the University will decide which of the procedures should take priority.
Q6. HOW WILL I KNOW IF FITNESS TO PRACTISE CONCERNS HAVE BEEN RAISED ABOUT ME?
In most instances minor student fitness to practise concerns can be addressed and resolved locally through direct discussion with placement supervisors. Serious or persistent issues will likely warrant the initiation of formal procedures. You will be notified where there is a concern about your fitness to practise. You will be invited to a meeting to discuss how the matter can be resolved (under level 1 of the procedure). This may include consideration of a range of supports and agreement to a set of actions and timeframes needed to successfully address the concerns raised. In some circumstances a recommendation for the student to take a leave of absence or consider withdrawal from the programme.
Q7. WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF FITNESS TO PRACTISE CONCERNS ARE NOT RESOLVED?
If concerns cannot be adequately resolved the matter may be referred to the Governing Board responsible for your programme. You will receive a communication to advise you that level 2 of the procedure has been initiated and you will be invited to a meeting to discuss the matter with a special sub-committee of the Governing Board. The subcommittee will review all of the information submitted to it, including any information you choose to submit in writing or in person. The sub-committee will then make a decision. The Governing Board can make any of the decisions outlined in 7.4.1 of the Fitness to Continue in Study Policy which includes the requirement for students to take a leave of absence, termination of registration or permanent exclusion from the programme.
Q8. DO I HAVE TO ATTEND THE MEETING WITH THE SUB-COMMITTEE?
It is important that you attend this meeting, as the sub-committee wants to hear from you. It’s recommended that you ask someone to support you by accompanying you to the meeting. This can be your Student Adviser, an SU Sabbatical Officer or even a friend. If you do not engage with this process and don’t attend the meeting the sub-committee may decide to proceed in your absence.
Q9. CAN I APPEAL THE DECISION OF THE SUB-COMMITTEE?
Yes, you can appeal the decision of the sub-committee but appeals may only be made on specified grounds and evidence to support your appeal must be submitted. Grounds for appeal include:
- New evidence: Information directly relevant to the decision, which for good reason was not available to the Governing Board (subcommittee).
- Procedural Irregularity: There is evidence that the procedures relating to a decision were not followed properly, which may have impacted on the sub-committee’s decision.
- Disproportionate outcome: The outcome applied was disproportionately severe with regard to the circumstances of the case.
Appeals must be submitted within 10 working days from the date of issue of the decision. For more information please see Student Appeals Procedure.
Q10. WHERE CAN I GO FOR MORE INFORMATION?
If you have any questions or concerns and you are registered to a programme with fitness to practise requirements, you should contact Programme Director or your School Office.
If you are thinking about applying to a programme with student fitness to practise requirements and have any questions or concerns you may wish to contact UCD Admissions.
Developing Programme Fitness to Practise Statements
Schools wishing to apply the Student Fitness to Practise Policy and procedures to their programmes are required to submit draft Programme Fitness to Practise Statements to Academic Council for approval. A statement details the key skills and required competencies of the programme. Statements will come into effect at the start of the next academic year.
Each programme has a dedicated Student Adviser who can offer support, information and advice.
Access contact details and information on a range of student issues.
UCD Chaplains are available for support, guidance and advice.
The SU Sabbatical Officers are available to offer assistance and support to students.
Student Counselling Service is provided by professionally qualified psychologists and counsellors.