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Student research

Last updated on 7 Dec 2018

Student studies are those undertaken primarily for the purpose of obtaining an educational qualification. 

Studies where the main purpose is to undertake specific research – and the educational qualification is secondary – do not fall into this category.

Student research should be approached in the same way as other studies taking place in the NHS. 

HRA Approval should be sought for any educational study led from England that:

Our bite-size eLearning module explains what HRA and Health and Care Research Wales (HCRW) Approval are, what types of research they apply to and what exemptions there are.

It takes approximately 10 minutes to complete.

Guidance for sponsors of student research

The UK Policy Framework for Health and Social Care stipulates that universities and colleges are expected to accept the role of sponsor for all educational research conducted by their own students, unless the student is employed by a health or social care provider that prefers to do this.

Sponsors of educational research should ensure that their supervisors can and do carry out the activities involved in fulfilling this role. It is expected that the sponsor will provide any advice and support to students using this process.

Our bite-size eLearning module explains the supervisor’s role in supporting student research.

It takes approximately five minutes to complete.

Guidance for supervisors

Student roles and responsibilities

The UK Policy framework stipulates that students should not normally take the role of chief investigator at any level of study, as this function should be undertaken by supervisors or course leaders, although exceptions are made in some circumstances.

Supervisors are encouraged to develop and lead research projects that individual students can contribute to, always acknowledging their contribution.

The framework further states that sponsors can create a ‘research culture’ by promoting students’ awareness of health and social care research, research ethics and public involvement, and enabling them to develop skills in research methods.

Setting up research sites

Our bite-size eLearning module provides guidance for students and supervisors in setting up research sites in participating NHS organisations in England and Wales.

It takes approximately 10 minutes to complete.

Exemptions

For educational studies taking place at a single NHS site in England and which do not require REC review, the NHS organisation and the university sponsoring the research will usually have an existing understanding about how these types of studies are handled.

For these studies, there are two options depending on existing local arrangements:

  1. Where universities and NHS organisations currently do not require an IRAS form to be submitted to the NHS R&D office but have alternative arrangements in place, these may continue.
  2. Where universities and NHS organisations currently do require an IRAS form to be submitted to the R&D office, then an application for HRA Approval should be made. A template Statement of Activities and template Schedule of Events will not be needed as there is not likely to be the need to attribute funding. Such student studies will be reviewed against the same HRA assessment standards and criteria as other studies. It is expected that the sponsor will provide any advice and support to students using this process.

Please contact the R&D department of the NHS trust in which you wish to undertake your research for guidance on what arrangements are in place. 

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