Legal address: 24 Shelton Street, London, WC2H 9UB
Trading address 1: 24 Shelton Street, London, WC2H 9UB
Trading address 2: 33 Long Acre, London, WC2E 9LA
Overall Approach to Student Protection
The London Film School (LFS) is committed to ensuring all of our students are able to complete their programme of study and to putting in place measures that ensure continuity of study, provision of resources and staffing.
The prime objective of the School’s Management is to protect and promote the interests of students at all times as stated in the Management Team’s Terms of Reference. This includes putting in place safeguards to ensure students can complete their studies in the way they would expect.
As stipulated in our audited annual account, LFS is committed to maintaining strong reserves with processes in place that contribute to sound financial decision making which in turn ensures we remain a financially stable and sustainable higher education provider.
Responsibility for the Student Protection Plan rests with the Academic Board of the London Film School while the Governing Body has overall oversight over and final approval of the document.
After its initial approval, the Student Protection Plan will be monitored, reviewed and if required, updated on an annual basis by the Academic Board before it is submitted to the Governing Body for consideration. By assigning the initial responsibility to Academic Board, we ensure that students can contribute to and provide feedback on the document via the Students’ Union and the student representative system.
Once approved, any changes will be communicated to the student body via email and the latest version of the Student Protection Plan will always be published on the LFS website.
Risk Assessment and Mitigation
LFS monitors and manages risk through our risk register which is administered by the Management Team and overseen by the Governing Body’s Finance and General Purposes Committee.
Below is an overview of risks to the continuation of study for our students, including an assessment of the likelihood of the risks materialising and agreed mitigations.
Risk That LFS Is Unable to Continue Our Operations
The risk that LFS as a whole is unable to operate is low as careful financial management and strong student numbers have allowed us to strengthen our reserves (forecast at £1,589,804 by the end of financial year 2017/18). The Governing Body’s Finance and General Purposes Committee monitors our financial performance, including our reserves, on a termly basis to ensure continued protection of students, delivery of our programmes and student experience as expected by our students.
In addition, LFS has taken out insurance cover for business continuity and indemnity to ensure it is able to continue operations in the event of unexpected major events.
Disruption of Studies Due to Relocation
We are planning to relocate our operations to new premises at London City Island (LCI) in 2020. As of August 2018, the project is subject to outstanding finance bids, including to Creative Skillset and the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund. The project is expected to be greenlit to proceed with construction and fit-out by January 2019, with an expected relocation date of Easter 2020 (with the possibility of delaying to the summer break 2020 to avoid disruption). Upon commencement of operations at LCI, LFS will benefit from a long-term (75 years) lease which, after the first 15 years, will incur only a peppercorn rent, allowing us to further strengthen our reserves and invest in teaching and learning to a greater degree.
The risk of disruption to students’ studies as a result of the relocation to LCI is considered low as the relocation is managed to ensure continuity of delivery throughout the process, including by ensuring the new premises begin operations at the beginning of the new term, either Summer or Autumn 2020. Upon commissioning of ‘Stage 4 Design Work’ – scheduled for January 2019 – students and staff will be invited to a number of consultative sessions around the new premises. This will include developing a full relocation plan, safeguarding continuity of teaching and learning before and after commencement of operations at the new premises.
Inability to Deliver Courses Due to Relocation
The risk that LFS’ operations cannot continue if the LCI relocation project falls through for any reason is considered low as we have ensured continuity of our tenure at our existing primary facilities in Shelton Street until an alternative is found. The management keep contingency plans for this eventuality under constant review and at all times the highest priority is given to continuation of high-quality teaching and learning.
Inability to Deliver Courses Due to Closure (of Sites)
The risk of disruption to students’ studies caused by issues in the current Shelton Street and/or Long Acre premises is considered low, but with high impact if an event occurs. In particular, the ageing facilities at Shelton Street require careful health and safety management to ensure they provide a safe learning and working environment, including an asbestos management plan. Issues arising and ongoing management of health and safety are reviewed at least termly by the Health and Safety Committee which reports into the Governing Body’s Finance and General Purposes Committee.
In the event that part or all of the Shelton Street premises are rendered unusable through an event in the building, for example through a major asbestos contamination event requiring the temporary closure of the facilities, the School will in the first instance seek to temporarily rehouse teaching and learning activities in like-for-like facilities as close to the current premises as possible while the existing premises are made good. This may include hiring external studio or post-production facilities, teaching spaces, and/or office space. We are currently in the process of developing a full list of any such like-for-like facilities which we intend to complete by 14/12/2018 together with the full business continuity plan (see below). Costs incurred would be expected to be covered by our business continuity insurance if caused by an event beyond our control. In the event a significant amount of time is lost to making alternative arrangements, catch-up sessions will be scheduled in subsequent weekend or out-of-term breaks where possible and practical. A fuller business continuity plan is in development to set out the course of action in such an eventuality. This plan is due to be completed and approved by 28/02/2019.
The premises at Long Acre are taken on a reasonably short-term lease basis and the existing lease is due to expire in March 2020. A business continuity plan for the eventuality that we are served early notice of eviction from Long Acre has been prepared and includes options for replacing the facilities like-for-like with equivalent nearby facilities, and/or relocating some or all teaching and learning activities to the main premises at Shelton Street. An updated appendix to this plan is currently in development; once complete it will list any suitable like-for-like facilities identified by LFS. This appendix is scheduled to be completed by 14/12/2018.
In the event that we are unable to continue our operations in their entirety, we will work with the awarding bodies to identify options for course completion. This may include transfer of students to the university partner or transfer to another provider. Financial implications for such a situation, including details about compensation available to students affected by this, are detailed in the LFS Refund and Compensation Policy.
Unavailability of Resources to Deliver Specialised Courses
The risk of disruption to students’ studies through loss or failure of specialised equipment is considered low, but with high impact if an event occurs. LFS’ practical programmes are delivered using a range of specialised equipment including cameras, microphones, lights, etc. In most instances of loss (accidental or by theft) or accidental damage, costs incurred for replacing equipment are covered by our business insurance.
Some highly specialised equipment can be difficult to replace at short notice due to a general lack of availability of such equipment; we have built networks with equipment providers and also other film schools to ensure where possible we can replace such equipment at least temporarily to minimise disruption to studies. Work will commence in September 2018 to consolidate information held by departments on sourcing such equipment from within our networks to create a centrally kept register of equipment and replacement options.
Simultaneously, work will be undertaken by the departments to establish a register of alternative equipment where a direct like-for-like pieces of equipment cannot be sourced. When creating this list, the School will ensure that any alternative equipment will allow us to deliver a comparable learning experience that meets the standards expected by the students and that enables them to meet or exceed the learning outcomes. Where parts or all of the course have to be delivered using alternative equipment, students and, if applicable, applicants will be informed via email at the earliest opportunity.
This work is due to be completed by 14/12/2018.
Changes to Programmes, Regulations, or Policies
As stated in our Admissions Policy and the Student Contract, we regularly review and update our courses to ensure that they remain up-to-date and relevant and continue to meet the changing needs of the industry so that our students are prepared for successful careers.
Changes may also occur to reflect student feedback, matters of academic judgement or expertise, or changes to teaching practices or facilities.
Changes to any of our courses will be communicated to all affected applicants, in writing, at the earliest opportunity.
If we decide to make any material changes to a programme of study, we will consult students in advance and seek their consent except where the change is required for regulatory or legal reasons or for reasons beyond our control in which case we will still notify students as soon as possible to minimise the impact on them.
Risks to Academic Quality and Standards
LFS has a track record of successful quality reviews and annual monitoring. During our most recent Higher Education Review 2016, the QAA found that we were meeting UK expectations in three of the four findings and commended us in the fourth area (quality of student learning opportunities).
Following the submission of the annual return in 2017, the QAA confirmed that we were continuing to maintain academic standards and enhance the quality of student learning opportunities and information about learning opportunities.
The policies, processes and procedures that led to these successful reviews continue to be in place and ensure that LFS continues to deliver courses at the highest standard. This is monitored by our Academic Board whose membership include a representative from the Students’ Union and a student representative.
During the transition period which is due to end on 31 July 2019, LFS remains subject to educational oversight by the QAA. Our next annual monitoring visit is scheduled for October 2018.
In preparation for Academic Year 2019/20, the full implementation of the regulatory framework and the Governing Body’s oversight responsibilities, conversations are currently underway to establish processes that enable the Governing Body to monitor academic quality and standards and ensure continued compliance with the QAA Quality Code. We aim to have these processes in place by Spring 2019.
While we continue to work with our partner universities, academic quality and standards are also monitored by the universities through formal meetings and reports, including those of External Examiners.
Inability to Recruit International Students
The risk that LFS is unable to recruit international students is low. We have in place robust processes and procedures to maintain our Tier 4 licence which are carefully monitored and updated by senior staff.
Over the past few years, revised processes have significantly improved our scores in the annual Basic Compliance Assessment (BCA). In the most recent BCA, LFS received the best possible scores which confirmed that the processes we have in place are more than adequate to ensure that we retain our Tier 4 licence and continue to be able to recruit international students.
Our active relationship with UK Visas and Immigration via their premium service also ensures that we have access to the most recent and relevant information as well as information about individual applicants to avoid problems with their visa or visa application.
Inability to Deliver Material Components Due to Staff Absences
Employed teaching staff and contracted Visiting Lecturers (VLs) may be absent due to sickness, injury or some other personal reason and therefore unable to teach as per the advertised schedule. This is unlikely to affect the delivery of programmes in the long-term, but may briefly disrupt students’ studies during term time.
We utilise a number of VLs to assist in delivery of our courses. This is advantageous for the students as it provides teaching from individuals with wide-ranging industry and/or academic experience to enhance their learning experience. Currently the arrangements with VLs are governed by implied agreements based on a fixed fee. There is a low risk that we are unable to deliver material components if a VL chooses not to honour the agreement. It has been rare in the School’s history for this to be the case as many of these agreements have been longstanding and are of benefit to all parties.
The Head of HR is in the process of reviewing contractual arrangements with VLs to ensure that the appropriate express written agreements are in place as soon as possible.
To mitigate this risk, Heads of Department and Term Tutors have lists of suitably qualified alternative teaching staff and VLs who can provide cover at short notice and deliver classes, both theoretical and practical, using lesson plans provided by the School.
To strengthen our approach and further mitigate the risk, this information will be consolidated into a central register which will be accessible to relevant staff with an expected completion date of 14/12/2018.
Where this is not possible, we will ensure that classes are rescheduled in a timely manner and if required, the remaining timetable will also be adjusted to compensate for any delays caused by the absence of staff of VLs.
We also plan to investigate wellness initiatives (such as managing stress) to mitigate the risk of staff sickness absence. A pilot is scheduled for September 2018 and if successful, further initiatives will be rolled out throughout the year.
Termination of Partnership Agreements
The risk of any of the agreements with our partner universities being terminated is low.
Over the course of the partnerships with our partner universities, LFS has built good relationships with the universities and key staff. Both partners benefit from the partnership and have an interest in continuing or possibly even expanding on the agreement.
If, however, it came to a termination of the partnership, our students would be protected by relevant clauses in the agreements which stipulate that both parties will take reasonable steps to ensure that all students registered on the course(s) are able to complete their studies. The validation agreement with the University of Warwick (for students on the MA Filmmaking and MA Screenwriting programmes) further stipulates that the University and LFS will cooperate to ensure that the students are transferred to another provider or to the University in order to enable them to complete their course.
The agreements for the joint programmes offered with the University of Exeter (MA International Film Business and PhD Film by Practice) both stipulate that both parties will work together to ensure any students who are studying on the programmes at the time of termination are able to complete their studies and obtain the appropriate award.
Our Approach to Refunds and Compensation
In July 2018, the Management Team of the London Film School approved a new and comprehensive policy on refunds and compensation which has been published on our website (https://lfs.org.uk/who- we-are/policies-regulations-and-governance/policies-and-regulations).
The policy covers the following areas:
- Description of the circumstances under which students are eligible for refunds;
- Description of the circumstances under which students are not eligible for refunds;
- Process for requesting refunds and timelines;
- Bursaries and scholarships and their monetary value in the context of refunds;
- Description of the circumstances under which students are eligible for compensation
- Details of what a compensation plan would entail should one be required and confirmation
- LFS’s commitment to consult the Students’ Union when producing a compensation plan;
- Description of what compensation might look like.
As described above, we have taken out insurance cover for business continuity and indemnity and forecast to have reserves of £1,589,804 by the end of financial year 2017/18 which will enable us to meet our commitments made in the Student Protection Plan and the LFS Refunds and Compensation Policy.
Communicating the Student Protection Plan
This Student Protection Plan will be published together with various policies, procedures, forms and guidance documents in the ‘Policies, Regulations, and Governance’ section on the LFS website https://lfs.org.uk/full-time-study/policies-regulations_governance).
As stated above, responsibility for the Student Protection Plan rests with LFS’s Academic Board while the Governing Body has overall oversight over and final approval of the document.
After its initial publication, the Student Protection Plan will be monitored, reviewed and if required, updated on an annual basis by the Academic Board before it is submitted to the Governing Body for consideration.
By assigning the initial responsibility to Academic Board, we ensure that students can contribute to and provide feedback on the document via the Students’ Union and the student representative system.
Should we need to implement all or parts of this plan, we will write to any affected student directly, addressing their personal circumstances in the context of the Student Protection Plan, the broader implications for the student body and the School as a whole, and an invitation to attend meetings with senior staff to discuss their situation.
During the process, we will work closely with the Students’ Union and if appropriate, student representatives.
Version: March 2019