Student Protection Plan
The Prince’s Foundation Student Protection Plan only applies to students directly registered with The Prince’s Foundation under the validated courses. It will not cover sub-contracted courses for students registered at other universities. The other universities will be solely responsible for these students. Range and level of risks to the continuation of study for our students.
In line with its Teaching and Learning Strategy, The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts is committed to ensuring that students receive a high-quality learning experience, that the academic standards of its awards are safeguarded and that students achieve the best academic outcomes from their studies.
The Higher Education and Research Act 2017 requires HEIs to maintain a Student Protection Plan to protect students’ interests in the case of material change, e.g. programme changes, closures, withdrawal of validation or QAA/OfS or Tier 4 Sponsorship, staff changes etc.
These events may be triggered by situations such as:
Closure of The Prince’s Foundation or School of Traditional Arts/course
The risk that the student will not be able to complete their studies should The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts or course close is low because it has a restricted fund that is sufficient to ensure that enrolled MA students are able to complete their programme of studies and to manage the supervision of research degree students through to the completion of their degrees.
Change of campus
The risk that the School will no longer deliver courses at its London campus within the next three years is low because the School owns the lease (over 900 years)2 of the part of the building/campus it occupies in Charlotte Road.
Termination of partnership with UWTSD
The risk that the partnership with the University of Wales Trinity St David (UWTSD)3 as the School’s validating body being terminated is low as the School has an established relationship with UWTSD and with the University of Wales prior to its merger with UWTSD, and HRH The Prince of Wales is the Royal Patron of UWTSD. There is an action plan that is being implemented and that will be constantly reviewed.
Withdrawal of QAA Educational Oversight/unable to register successfully with Office for Students
Withdrawal of QAA educational oversight would have a serious effect on the School but the risk of the likelihood of the withdrawal of QAA educational oversight is low as the School has worked closely with the QAA and has passed all QAA inspections and has had aspects of its practice commended. The School works closely with UWTSD to ensure that it follows the QAA Quality Code and has in place a Teaching and Learning Strategy which is based on the QAA codes of practice and which has been noted positively by the QAA. Office for Students will be taking over from QAA as the regulatory body for educational oversight. The Prince’s Foundation made its original application to OfS on 30 November 2018 and has recently been informed by OfS that their application has been accepted subject to enhanced monitoring requirements. If OfS decide to withdraw our registration, the risk for international students would be high as the Tier 4 Sponsorship will be affected and the School’s overseas students may lose their visas.
Withdrawal of Tier 4 Sponsorship
The risk of withdrawal of Tier 4 Sponsorship5 is medium as the School is a very small institution which only issues up to 10 CAS numbers per annum with a total of 30 postgraduate students. With the small number of students at the School, if one incoming overseas applicant is refused their visa application the School will immediately surpass the 10% refusal rate needed to ensure basic compliance with Tier 4 sponsorship. So far the UK Border Agency has exceptionally extended our Tier 4 Sponsor status if this has happened as we have been assigned fewer than 50 CAS within the assessment period. The risk directly affects international students who hold visas. The withdrawal should not affect the UK students. UK Border Agency inspectors can make spot check visits at any time and have previously visited the School. The School was able to successfully satisfy the officer that it is compliant with Tier 4 Sponsorship requirements. Should the School lose its Tier 4 Sponsorship, it will work with international students to see if they are able to complete their MA from their home country if their visa is withdrawn and they have to return to their home country. The Prince’s Foundation successfully registered as a Tier 4 Sponsor.
Major changes in year to course content or curriculum
The risk that there will be major changes to course content/curriculum is low as the School has been running validated programmes at taught postgraduate and research degree level for many years. The School has always sought to update its programmes, respond positively to recommendations by its external examiners and validating and accrediting bodies and take on board student feedback. The School values student feedback through official staff-student meetings and questionnaires to help them plan the curriculum for the following year. The School has had to make relatively few changes to its programmes year in and year out and hardly any substantive changes in-year.
Loss of scholarships
The risk that the loss of scholarships will affect students is low as the School makes sure that scholarships for MA students are guaranteed for the duration of their studies and research degree students scholarships are only allocated in an annual basis and are reviewed annually. Research degree students are made aware before accepting the offer of a place at the School that their scholarships are only for a year at a time and that they should ensure that they have sufficient private funding or alternative sponsorship to complete their studies if necessary. With a loss of scholarships, the School will make sure that all incoming students are aware of this before offering a place on the programme. This will not affect current students as the funding has been secured for MA students for 2 years before a scholarship offer is made.
The unanticipated loss of key members of School staff
The risk from the unanticipated loss of key members of School staff is low as the School is confident it has a high calibre of alumni who have replaced visiting tutor and permanent staff members in the past.
Measures put in place to preserve continuation of study for our students in those areas where the risk may be increased
The Prince’s Foundation, School of Traditional Arts is committed to communicating any changes to students as early as possible, with clear information and options.
All reasonable steps will be taken to minimise the resultant disruption to the School’s services and to affected students. The School will take all reasonable steps to avoid implementing change during an academic year. In the event of programme closure, the School will take all reasonable steps to ensure that existing students may complete their current programme to their original timescale at the School. Should the protection plan need to be implemented, the Director of the School will meet with all students as soon as any changes become official. The School has agreements and processes in place, overseen by the validating body, to allow students to transfer to alternative providers, should all other options be exhausted. The School will work towards enabling enrolled MA students to complete their studies and manage the supervision of research students through to the completion of their degree. A compensation policy will be implemented by April 2020. If the School’s partnership with University of Wales Trinity St David (UWTSD) were to be terminated for any reason, then UWTSD would have an obligation to help students already enrolled on a UWTSD programme at the School to be able to complete their studies. This is stipulated in the Memorandum of Agreement between the School and UWTSD.
Significant material change
As with all providers, an extreme set of events may lead to the prospect of The Prince’s Foundation, School of Traditional Arts being closed. This may be triggered, for example, by The Prince’s Foundation becoming insolvent or the School of Traditional Arts being closed through falling student demand, withdrawal of validation or regulatory matters, or a major event rendering the School’s mission non-viable. In the unlikely event that The Prince’s Foundation or the School of Traditional Arts has no option, other than to close, it may consider measures such as those below to protect student experience:
- Where possible, closing in a gradual way, over a period that would allow current enrolled students to complete their studies at the School;
- Drawing on a compensation fund (to be approved in April 2020) in order to cover any claims for compensation or refunds;
- Where the above is not possible, the School will work with UWTSD in supporting students to transfer to appropriate programmes at other providers;
- Merging with another institution to maintain all of the current provision which happened on 1 September 2018 where The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts merged into The Prince’s Foundation.
Institutional closure of campus location
The Prince’s Foundation, School of Traditional Arts has been based at Charlotte Road since 2000 and has an asset of a third share in the leasehold of the building. With the merger into The Prince’s Foundation this will increase to 2/3 share of the leasehold and should provide security to the students that a change of campus is very unlikely, especially as the lease is 999 years.
On resource, academic, student experience or health and safety grounds it may become necessary to close a site and/or move programmes between sites. However, unless the decision were taken on the grounds of emergency relocation due to unanticipated events or on the grounds of urgent material repairs being necessary, the School undertakes not to close a site or relocate a programme while teaching is underway for the academic year. Where part or all of the campus is rendered unusable for activities involving students, the School will typically consider remedies such as:
- Relocating provision to an alternative location, this may include hiring spaces for programme delivery (which the School would try arrange as near to the original facilities as possible)
- Revising timetabling to allow all of the scheduled teaching to take place in the available facilities.
- Delivering programmes via alternative means such as distance learning. Before undertaking this option, the School will assess whether it is appropriate for the enrolled led students who would be affected.
Campus location closure is likely only in the case of severe material damage (such as fire rendering the entire building unsafe) as the School has a third share of the leasehold of the building it currently occupies with a long lease.
In the event of loss or restriction of validation, the School will work with the regulatory body to:
- Ensure all reasonable steps are taken to minimise the resultant disruption to affected students;
- Ensure that, as far as possible, changes are made in a transitional manner.
Withdrawal of scholarships and bank loans
The School makes sure that scholarships for MA students will cover the 2 years of their studies and that scholarships for research degree students are only allocated yearly and then re-evaluated the following year. This means that no student on a taught degree programme should lose their scholarships for the duration of the programme once it has been allocated and research degree students can be sure of their scholarship throughout the year in which it is allocated. The School ensures that all research degree students are advised that they should have sufficient private funding or alternative sponsorship in case a scholarship is not renewed for all their years of study. If a donor withdraws financial support for the MA scholarships, the MA current student will retain the scholarships for the second year of their studies. All incoming students will be made aware that there are no scholarships available before being offered a place on the MA programme. Bank loans are usually allocated to students at the beginning of their course and wherever possible the School will provide assistance for affected students by providing evidence/letters in support of the continuation of their studies.
Suspension of course
The School has established procedures in place of the event of the suspension/closure of a course. Where there has been material impact on the students, the effect will be mitigated with a compensation plan ensuring that currently enrolled students are provided with assurance that they will not be adversely affected by the decision and that they will be able to complete their studies at the School;
- Future applicants are notified in time for them to find an alternative suitable programme. The School previously had required incoming students to pay a non-refundable deposit of 20% of tuition fees by July just before the start of the course in September so that this will prevent students from dropping out last minute and not turning up as it will be too late to offer the place to someone else. However with the new intake this year, the School have decided not to continue with this and will withdraw this non-refundable deposit so that students will now have to pay the full fee when they start in September.
Major changes in year to course content or curriculum
An important part of the Teaching and Learning Strategy of the School and its validating partner is the ongoing commitment to quality assurance and enhancement which means that content, regulations and policies will be regularly updated. In line with the School’s Teaching and Learning Strategy, the School ensures that its programmes are up-to-date and that it responds positively and in a timely manner to student feedback and recommendations from its external examiners and accrediting bodies. The School’s programmes are now firmly established and benefit from having been running for many years during which it has been subject to external and internal scrutiny. It has benefitted from being able to subject its work to scrutiny by traditional arts communities and providers across the world and to feed into its teaching at the London campus expertise and practice derived from its extensive international outreach programme. In recent years, it has had to make relatively few substantive changes to course content/curriculum a year by year basis. It is not the School’s policy to make substantive in-year changes to its programmes and their content unless they are absolutely necessary and in the past five years or so very few such changes have been necessary. Past changes made on a year by year basis have occurred because of changes in the regulations of its validating bodies (UWTSD and previously the University of Wales) or in response to suggestions from students but these changes have tended to be minor ones. This is because the School has in place procedures and processes (for encouraging student feedback and promoting student engagement) which have resulted in a high rate of student satisfaction with its programmes; the School has a copious Teaching and Learning Strategy in place; and because, looking ahead, student programmes are always discussed at an end of year evaluation and planning meeting. Where updates to content (for example, the substitution of modules, changes to module content or assessment activities) have to be made, the School will ensure that they are discussed at the Course Board of Study and Academic Board. MA module questionnaires will be taken into consideration at these meetings. Changes are considered throughout the year and decisions are made at the end of year review at the Academic Board. Changes will only be implemented at the start of a new academic year to avoid disruption for the students. Changes to regulations and policies may be prompted by the validating partner and will be considered at the Academic Board, where students are represented. Revised regulations shall only apply to students enrolling after the School approval of those revisions and will be documented in the student handbook. New or revised policies shall apply to all students from the start of the academic term following approval by the Academic Board, with a proviso that for the remainder of the then current academic year, no student may be treated disadvantageously in comparison with the previous policy. The School will take all reasonable measures to ensure that the programmes are delivered in accordance with the description applied to it in the School’s website for the academic year in which a student is enrolled on their programme.
However, in the event of major in-year changes to course content the School will ensure that:
- Changes are restricted to the minimum necessary to achieve the required quality of experience, and that affected students are notified and consulted as appropriate in a timely manner;
- The School works with students to ensure the provision offered is still acceptable to students enrolled on the programme;
- Students are allowed to withdraw from the programme without financial and academic penalty.
Suspension of Tier 4 Sponsor Licence
In the event of suspension of Tier 4 Sponsor status, the School will take all reasonable steps to minimise the resultant disruption to its services and to affected students. The measures taken would include: - Working with UKVI to allow enrolled students to complete their year of study/programme; - Allow students already in receipt of a VISA based upon an allocated CAS from the School to enrol and commence their studies; - Offer students who have not commenced their travel to the School, the opportunity to postpone their application pending the resolution of the suspension.
Withdrawal of Tier 4 Sponsorship
The Prince’s Foundation, School of Traditional Arts is a very small institution which only issues up to 10 CAS numbers per annum with a total of 30 postgraduate students. The Prince’s Foundation, School of Traditional Arts will only issue a CAS once a candidate has passed a IELTS test with an overall score of 6.0 and at least 5.5 in all 4 categories of reading, writing, speaking and listening and provided evidence that they have the necessary funding. The School has had a spot check visit from an officer from the UK Border Agency, in line with their normal practice, who was satisfied that the School was compliant with Tier 4 Sponsorship and was keeping adequate records of students and their attendance. With the School’s merger into the Prince’s Foundation, The Prince’s Foundation has had to re-apply as a Tier 4 Sponsor which it successfully did on 20 May 2019. Students on the PSTA system were then transferred to The Prince’s Foundation system on 25 May 2019. Where the School’s Tier 4 sponsorship is withdrawn, prospective international students who have made an application to study will be contacted as a matter of urgency so they can find alternative providers. Depending on the circumstances, the School will appeal the decision/make a new application for a Tier 4 license with a view to its restoration for the following academic year. Current sponsored students will be contacted by the School within 2 School working days of notification of UKVI’s decision to advise whether they may continue under the existing sponsorship or are required to return to their home country to make a fresh visa application. In the latter case, on request and where Tier 4 regulations permit, the School will endeavour to transfer the student to an approved alternative provider with a Tier 4 licence. The School will also consider whether it is appropriate and possible for a student to complete their studies from their home country by distance learning.
Loss of registration from an independent regulator of higher education
The Prince’s Foundation, School of Traditional Arts works closely with UWTSD to make sure it follows the QAA quality code. A UWTSD Partnership Team Leader works closely with the MA and research degree programme teams. UWTSD hold a conference annually to share all new developments in education which the Registrar attends. The School recently underwent a review from UWTSD and successfully renewed its partnership for a further 5 years. The Director of Educational Development works closely with the educational team to make sure the School is compliant with all QAA matters. The School has in place a Teaching and Learning Strategy, subject to annual review, which follows the QAA Codes of Practice and has been noted positively by the QAA on its inspections. The School has passed all of its QAA inspections, has always responded positively and strategically to QAA recommendations and has received commendations from the QAA for aspects of its practice. Office for Students will be taking over educational oversight from QAA as an independent regulator of higher education. Office for Students has recently informed the School that it has accepted its application for registration subject to enhanced monitoring which hopefully will be resolved by May 2020. If OfS decide to withdraw the Foundation’s registration, the greatest impact would be directly on its Tier 4 Sponsorship and international students. Should this happen, the School will work closely with international students to see if they can complete their MA from their home country. The School would work closely and urgently with the OfS to re-register successfully with them.
Termination of partnership with UWTSD
The risk that The Prince’s Foundation, School of Traditional Arts’ partnership with UWTSD be terminated is low as the School of Traditional Arts has an established relationship with UWTSD and previously with the University of Wales prior to its merger with UWTSD. When the University of Wales was required by the Welsh Assembly Government to cease its validating activities and merge with UWTSD the School was one of only a few institutions which UWTSD sought to adopt as a validated institution. Where the above occurs for one, or more or all programmes, in line with the School’s validation agreement with UWTSD current students registered with the School will normally be permitted to complete their intended studies at the School, subject to normal maximum timescales. Where it is no longer possible for the School’s programmes to be validated by UWTSD, the School will work to identify an alternative validating provider and would expect that UWTSD would allow it time to do so. In the event of the School losing UWTSD validation, the School will consider measures to protect the student experience, such as those listed below:
- If the partnership were to be terminated for any reason, then UWTSD would have an obligation to help students already enrolled on a UWTSD validated programme at the School to be able to complete their studies, as stipulated in n the Memorandum of Agreement between the School and UWTSD.
The unanticipated departure of key members of School staff
The School has had to deal with the departure of key members of School staff over the years. In line with its Teaching and Learning Strategy by which the traditional arts is taught in an apprentice-practitioner model, the School employs practising artists as visiting tutors. The system has many benefits for students but is not without risk of the tutor having to leave the School because of other obligations. However, the School keeps an up-to-date data base of alumni who are experienced practitioners and teachers. Therefore replacements for visiting tutors are not difficult. For example, a replacement for a stained glass tutor was found very quickly when the r tutor pulled out last minute The School recognises that it may lose staff unexpectedly for a number of reasons and is able to deal with this eventuality by appointing staff from outside swiftly and taking the advantage of opportunities to move colleagues into new posts and responsibilities as part of their career development. The School is aware of the importance of training up a new generation of staff to refresh its programmes and ensure their sustainability. The School has a staff development policy and appraisals to help develop staff skills so that they may be able to take on more responsibility in the future. The School is confident that the departure of key members of School staff will not affect the quality of the teaching of the programme and with a number of alumni already teaching on the School’s open and outreach programmes it will not be difficult to replace staff. Where the unanticipated loss of key members of School staff occurs the School will seek to fill the position as quickly as possible, by moving other current members of staff with appropriate skills and experience, into the vacant post(s) or recruiting staff externally, as a matter of urgency, to minimise disruption. Information about where to find policy on refunding tuition fees and other relevant costs to provide compensation where necessary in the event that the Foundation is no longer able to preserve continuation of study. The School's refund policy can be accessed here. This refund policy will be updated by 30 April 2020 to include the compensation policy.
The draft refund and compensation will consider the following:
- The majority of the MA students are in receipt of scholarships from the School. The recipients of these scholarships will only be considered for refunds of any monies paid directly by the student for tuition fees or from external sponsors.
Refunds are considered only where
- students are in receipt of tuitions fee loan from the Student Loans Company.
- students pay their own tuition fees.
- students’ tuition fees are paid by a sponsor.
- the payment of additional travel costs for students affected by a change in the location of their course.
- commitments to honour student bursaries.
- compensation for maintenance costs and lost time where it is not possible to preserve continuation of study.
- compensation for tuition and maintenance costs where students have to transfer courses or provider.
PFSTA will put in place sufficient cash reserves to provide refunds and compensation for those students who have been identified as an increased risk of non-continuation of study. We will ensure that this is in place by 30 April 2020. The refund and compensation policy will be updated then and republished once it has been approved.
Information about how the Foundation will communicate with students about our student protection plan
The School has publicised its student protection plan to current and future students on the website and included this plan in the student handbook from September 2018. It was updated in June 2019. As OfS has approved the Foundation’s registration, the updated Student Protection Plan will be published on the website by 4 March 2020 and in the student handbook for 2020. The refund and compensation policy will be updated after 30 April 2020 when its policy has been approved. The draft plan was forwarded to UWTSD for approval and discussed at the Academic Board on 12 March 2020. The final version will then be emailed to all staff and will be available in the student handbook. The plan was forwarded for review to the student representatives at the Course Board of Study on 12 March 2020. Should the School’s student protection plan need to be implemented, we will inform our students if there are to be material changes to their course by the beginning of the academic year. As the School will have a refund and compensation policy in place by 30 April 2020, the School is confident that this will give students the assurance that the School has enough reserves to either see students through to the end of their course or in the unlikely event this proves impossible to provide the necessary refund and compensation. The School will ensure that students are given as much notice as possible when it needs to make material changes to their course although this will vary depending on the nature of the changes and the circumstances which trigger the implementation of the student protection plan. If the School needs to implement the measures in the student protection plan it will seek to support students collectively as well as individually to make sure that they are able to complete the course successfully. In the event of the School implementing the measures in its protection plan, it will ensure that all students have access to the Director of the School.