Second chance

Authority University of the Fraser Valley

Jenea had accepted a practicum at a local community agency that had an agreement with her university to provide placements to students. Jenea attended her practicum on the first day, but a family emergency caused her to miss the second. On day three, representatives of the agency and the university met with Jenea, informing her that her practicum was being terminated.

Jenea contacted us because she felt the process followed was unfair. In particular, she was concerned that she was not given an opportunity to address the agency’s concerns before the decision was made to terminate her field placement. She was also concerned that she wasn’t given adequate reasons for or the opportunity to appeal
the decision.

We reviewed the university’s policies, which provided guidelines practicum agencies should follow when a student experiences difficulty. The first step was for the practicum agency staff to meet with the student to discuss and address areas of concern. If that measure was not successful, the policy provided for a meeting between the student, the agency and the university followed by a written report summarizing the concerns and outlining an action plan to address them. If the problem persisted, the final step in the policy included a review and written recommendations to the departmental director. As Jenea was not given these opportunities and was still unclear about the concerns that led to the termination of her placement, we asked the university to provide Jenea a more detailed explanation and issue an apology. The university agreed and met with Jenea for this purpose.

In the course of our investigation we learned that field placement agencies sign a standard agreement with the university, setting out the terms and conditions, including circumstances under which a student may be removed from a placement. However, this agreement did not make reference to the university’s policies, including steps that may have helped Jenea when she faced termination. Likewise, students also sign placement agreements with the university and with the agency that provide for the potential termination of the agreements – but again it did not refer to university policies or indicate that steps should be taken before ending a placement.

Although field placement agencies were expected to be familiar with university policies, we believed it would be helpful if the contract agreements specifically referenced the university policies. To aid in this, we asked the university to update its agreements to include termination notice periods and provide information about appeal options. The university agreed to amend the agreement form and take necessary steps to ensure that field placement agencies and students have better guidance when problems arise during student placements. After Jenea met with the university, she wrote and thanked us for the resolution we obtained.

Category Education
Type Case Summary
Fiscal Year 2013
Location The Lower Mainland