In order to ensure that students are properly supported by their employer and appropriate arrangements are made for practice learning, it is a requirement that all students are formally sponsored on the programme. This means that you will be asked to:

  • sign a Sponsorship Form on registering the student which makes you responsible for ensuring the fees are paid
  • sign a Collaboration Agreement which clarifies the contributions made by the OU and sponsoring agencies to the programme offered to students (see specimen copy (pdf)).

It is essential that you sign a Sponsorship Form in relation to the three practice modules as the university does not permit individuals to register themselves. We do, however, permit students (once they have a place on the programme) to register themselves on the non-practice modules if employer and employee have agreed that the student should help with the fees.

Experience has shown that sponsoring agencies come to a variety of financial arrangements with staff to suit their individual circumstances. Many agencies pay the full costs of the fees and other costs of their staff such as travel expenses. Practice with respect to any requirements following completion of the programme (for example, to stay employed by the agency for a period) varies widely. Other agencies meet their obligations towards ensuring the fees are paid (and providing the necessary study leave and practice learning opportunities), but recoup some or all of the fees from staff. Some expect their staff to take unpaid leave to meet the study leave requirements.

The Programme does not make any recommendations about what kind of sponsorship arrangements are made with staff as long as the agency meets the obligations of the Collaboration Agreement, i.e. the agency ensures that fees are paid, that staff undergo a period of 10 days of preparation for practice and are provided with two contrasting practice learning opportunities with a suitable practice educator, and that staff are allowed the recommended study leave each week. Whatever the nature of the arrangements, make sure you and your student have a written agreement.

Further information is available in our Sponsoring a student leaflet (pdf)

If you would like further guidance on different approaches to sponsorship, then contact the Social Work Programme Co-ordinator.