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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.

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What should I know about Fitness to Practise?

A Fitness to Practise deals with any issues that has arisen that may mean that a student is unable to practise on a course that leads to professional registration. This can sometimes arise from concerns raised about a student’s performance on a placement, as a result of a student disciplinary matter, or because of concerns that have been flagged by your academic department or school. Not every course is subject to these standards, so you should ensure that you check your Course Handbook to see if it applies to you. Courses where Fitness to Practise commonly applies including teaching and education subjects (including the PGDE), Masters of Pharmacy, counselling courses, and social work subjects but this is not an exhaustive list.

Examples of the sort of things that might require consideration by a Fitness to Practise committee include the development of a mental or physical health condition which would prevent you being fit to practise, unprofessional conduct such as drug taking, criminal convictions which prevent registration with the relevant body, or breaches of ethical guidelines.

Fitness to Practise committees have a range of options open to them if they determine that a student is not fit to practise at that time. These include reprimands, allowing a student to continue on the course if they meet certain requirements, and suspension from the course for a defined period of time. They can also determine that a student should be withdrawn from the relevant course of study; sometimes they may determine that it’s possible for them to be transferred to another programme that does not have a professional registration component.

What is the process for Fitness to Practise?

If the decision is taken (usually by your Course or Programme Leader) that you should be referred to a Fitness to Practise procedure, you will receive an invitation to attend a Fitness to Practise Committee. This invitation will include information about why you are being referred, the date and time of the committee, and a copy of all the paperwork that is being presented to the panel for consideration. This usually includes a report from the Programme Leader and copies of evidence if relevant and available that supports their reasoning for the referral. You will then have the opportunity to submit any evidence that you wish to be considered, any mitigating circumstances that may have affected you, and a written statement regarding the case.

At the committee hearing, you will be able to attend with a supporter or representative and you will be asked questions by the members of the committee; often these are about your practise, any incidents in question, your reflections on your professional practise and standards, and any actions you’ve been taking to either enhance or remedy your practise.

You will usually be informed of the committee decision on the same day after the committee have considered the matter privately following meeting with you, but this can sometimes be delayed if they feel they cannot make a decision without gathering further information or evidence. Every effort will be made to try and avoid this, however, so you have an outcome as soon as possible.

How can the Advice Hub help me with Fitness to Practise?

Fitness to Practise proceedings can be lengthy and very stressful and upsetting for students. The Advice Hub provide support and representation through the whole process, starting from when you receive notification of the committee right through to receiving the outcome and any steps you need to take. We can help you with understanding the paperwork you receive from the University, with presenting your case and evidence in as strong and clear a way as possible, and we will always endeavour to attend committees with you where you feel you would like some support and someone to help you navigate the process. A friendly face who’s on your side every step of way can really help carry some of stress and we’ll be happy to be there with you for that.

Useful resources

Fitness to Practise Policy and Procedures

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