Courses that require an element of practical training in a professional role with, for example, patients, children, and service users, where the qualification includes a license to practice have an obligation to ensure that students are fit to practise. If the University has reason to consider this, then you may be asked to undertake a Fitness to Practise procedure.
As with any University procedure, contact the Advice Hub for advice and support.
What courses are subject to Fitness to Practise?
Any course which requires a student to undertake practical training in a quasi-professional role related to patients, children, clients, family members, or service users, or where the successful completion of the course leads to a licence or registration to practice. Your course handbook will provide further information on whether your course is subject to Fitness to Practise requirements.
What happens during a FtP procedure?
The full policy and procedure is available here to refer to at any point. A Fitness to Practise deals with any issues that has arisen that may mean that a student is unable to practice on a course that leads to professional registration. Examples include unprofessional conduct such as drug taking or alcohol abuse, or breach of ethics. Further examples are available in Appendix 1 of the linked policy (though these are not exhaustive).
You will be advised in writing of the date of the Fitness to Practise panel hearing and the details of the referral that has been made against you. You will be able to submit a written statement regarding the allegation and any relevant mitigating circumstances, and also provide written witness statements. You may be representated at the panel by a person of your choice at their agreement who has permission to address the panel if you are present.
Do I need to attend the hearing?
You are not required to, however, we would strongly recommend that you do as proceedings will continue whether you are present or not, and you are the person that is best placed to speak about you and your actions and conduct. A representative is permitted to attend the panel and observe proceedings in your absence.
When will I know the outcome?
You will generally know the outcome at the end of the panel hearing. You and your representative and the Investigating Officer (usually the academic Course Leader who conducted an initial investigation and made the referral to panel) will be asked to leave the room while the panel consider the evidence presented by both sides. This can take a little time, but generally, you will be invited back to hear the outcome at this stage.
What outcomes could there be?
There's no exhaustive list and the University may apply any outcome that is deemed reasonable and proportional, but typically the outcome will be one of the following:
permission to carry on with the course with advice and guidance;
permission to carry on with the course with close supervision;
permission to carry on with the course with reasonable conditions or requirements;
suspension from the course for a specified period of time;
withdrawal from the course or transfer to a non-registered course.
It's also important to note that if a student is found by a committee to be not fit to practice, the outcome will be provided to the relevant professional/regulatory body at the conclusion of the proceedings (including appeals proceedings). SSSC (the Scottish Social Services Committee) will be notified of the outcome of cases whether the student decides to appeal against the outcome of the committee or not.
What do I do if I'm unhappy with the outcome?
There is an appeals procedure for Fitness to Practise and you can submit an appeal for consideration by a different panel under the following grounds:
a) There was a procedural irregulaity in the process undertaken that gives rise to a reasonable doubt as to whether the Investigating Office or Fitness to Practise Committee would have reached the same decision had the irregularity not occured;
b) Substantive new evidence has come to light since the original hearing of the case which might have caused the Investigating Office or Fitness to Practise Committee to reach a different conclusion. The evidence was not available, for good reason, at the time the case was considered;
c) Allegations of prejudice or bias on the part of the Investigating Officer or Fitness to Practise Committee;
or d) Submission that the penalty imposed is unduly harsh or exceeds the limit of authority given to the Investigating Office or Fitness to Practise Committee.