Canterbury Christ Church University

Case Study

Canterbury Christ Church College was established in 1962 as the first teacher training college founded by the Church of England. As the College grew it began to offer degrees outside of teacher training and launched Health-related professional courses in the late 1980s. In 1995, the College was awarded the power to grant their own degrees for taught courses which led to the change of name to Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU). The University continued to expand, taking over the Salomons Centre from the NHS in 1996, creating a West Kent Campus. By 2007, CCCU had established 5 campuses in total.

Today, CCCU is organised into academic faculties, comprising schools and centres for teaching and research, as well as professional service departments who provide the core services of the University.

Business situation
Prior to implementing PEMS, CCCU’s Faculty of Health and Wellbeing oversaw 2350 students on pre-registration programmes, offering ten professional disciplines in:

  • Adult, Child and Mental Health Nursing and Midwifery
  • Social Work, Operating Department and Practice, Radiography, Occupational Therapy, Paramedic Science, Speech and Language Therapy

Within their team of 5 (FTE) placement administrators, they managed approximately 5500 planned placement slots per year, supporting 180 academic staff working across three departments.


Historically, the Faculty’s placement team mapped placements and allocations via spreadsheets, and communicated to all individuals involved in the process via direct or mail-merged email. Whilst this approach maintained personal interaction and a rudimentary audit trail for contact with those involved in placements, there was still a heavy administrative burden on routine tasks such as emailing to confirm placements or compiling audit reports.

Due to the inherent error-prone nature of spreadsheet/paper-based systems, governance of data and access to real-time information presented a particular challenge. Following the publication of the Francis Report, and the ensuing recommendations made, it is increasingly important for HEIs to be able to monitor the quality of students’ pre-placement achievements and provide an audit trail of compliance. It was difficult for CCCU to ensure that they were meeting requirements when allocating students, leading them to take steps to address the potential risk of inappropriately prepared students having access to patients.

Data sharing with key stakeholders, such as placement providers and high-level NHS organisations, had also proved challenging meaning that cross-organisation, co-working efficiency was difficult to maintain.

The Faculty came to the decision to purchase a “placements database” to reduce the risks associated with its current practice learning processes. Having discussed their needs internally and reviewed the market for software solutions, Oxinet was chosen to support the Faculty with requirements definition and product specification.

Their overall goals with regard to a chosen system in the first instance were:

  • To gain the ability to allocate without spreadsheets

  • To establish a shared interface with stakeholders

  • To enhance governance and quality assurance of practice learning

  • To have a user friendly system for administrative staff

  • To have the ability to easily produce reports on placement activity

In July 2013, Oxinet was awarded the contract to deliver an integrated placement management system for Canterbury Christ Church University’s Faculty of Health and Wellbeing: PEMS.


PEMS was chosen by CCCU for the following key benefits, which they anticipated would meet their overall project goals:

  • PEMS reduces the amount of time that staff spend manually creating, updating and reporting on data in relation to placements

  • PEMS reduces the risks associated with the management of the practice learning experience

  • PEMS enhances communication and partnership working with students, placement providers and academic staff

The establishment of the relationship between Oxinet and CCCU, and the scoping work undertaken with the placement team early on made it far simpler to ensure that they were not only purchasing the right solution to fit their current and developing needs, but that they could proceed with confidence, working with a company whose employees live and breathe Healthcare placements, and understand the complex processes and terminology.

Following the project kick-off in July 2013, Oxinet’s PEMS Implementation Team commenced with more in-depth requirements definition, with particular focus on understanding CCCU’s unique terminology. Subsequently, the terminology was incorporated into the system as part of the customisation phase of the project. Meanwhile, the technical teams from both parties worked on integrating PEMS with the University’s student record system (QL) and Single Sign On systems.

As per the project plan, the Readiness for Practice (RFP) and Organisational Management modules were the first to be scoped and implemented, with placement provider data being imported from several Excel spreadsheets. Within a matter of weeks, student and placement provider information data had been cleansed and loaded into the system ready for testing.

Throughout the process, Oxinet’s team worked closely with the University and the system was continually adapted to make any changes CCCU requested as they became accustomed to seeing their data and processes running through PEMS.

RFP and Organisation Management went live in September 2013, with all core modules live as of January 2014. The Mentor Register and Moderation of Practice custom modules went live in May 2014, well within the timescales projected for implementation. The whole project was completed and accepted by CCCU in July 2014.


With PEMS in place, CCCU is now confident that their students, patients and placement providers are protected. Students can complete online self-service declarations via the RFP Module, where administrators check or update that regulatory requirements have been met prior to commencing placement. Student submissions can be monitored on the placement managers’ dashboard, creating alerts for non-compliance, saving staff time in managing each student individually. Students can also access up-to-date pre-placement information and Placement Provider details online via the dedicated PEMS student portal. Placement Managers can send messages to individuals or in bulk direct from PEMS too, maintaining an audit trail of all communications.

Customised dashboards make it easy for Academics in Practice, Practice Staff and Students to keep abreast of key information, such as student placement blocks, and ensure that they can only view information relevant to their role within the process. They can even log in using their existing University login details.

Through the Mentor Register module, Practice Learning Facilitators’ (PLFs) details and qualifications are now recorded in one place and can be updated by organisation-based practice development facilitators, meaning that students are no longer placed without a current PLF in place. Students can also be matched to PLFs via PEMS, eliminating the risk of the Faculty being in breach of National Midwifery Council (NMC) statutory requirements for students to be matched to qualified, up-to-date PLFs.

Audit tools allow the placement team and academic staff to complete placement audits including
dual level audits for large NHS organisations. Action plans can be recorded for all practice areas and students can be prevented from being allocated future placements until a current audit has been completed.

Students are now automatically sent online evaluations post-placement, preventing delays in responding to feedback which had previously been experienced. Email notifications and automatic reminder messages ensure that evaluations are captured quickly via PEMS and available for review by the Faculty immediately.

In autumn 2014 the Faculty was rated ‘Outstanding’ by Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) auditors thanks to the robust placement area auditing functionality provided by the system. CCCU has also become a much valued and enthusiastic contributor to the PEMS User Group, and has been able to share helpful insights into placement systems implementation with the wider practice education community. Furthermore, the functionality developed as part of the implementation project is now used by all PEMS customers.

PEMS is Placement Education Made Simple.

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How PEMS benefits you

Administrative Staff

For Placement Managers, HEI academic staff and admin teams, PEMS is a useful tool for tracking, monitoring and reporting on students’ academic progress all in one place. It supports pre-placement checks, ensuring regulatory standards are maintained.


Students benefit from a simple, paperless system that enables them to quickly update their details and statuses, supporting a stress-free placement management process. No more paper forms, they can access placement information and report attendance using their mobile phone or tablet.

External Stakeholders

Placement providers, external bodies, assessors, mentors and supervisors can be permitted secure access to certain functions and reports. Paper forms are eliminated, as placement providers can now perform all the necessary tasks such as audits and student evaluations online.


Organisations which are part of an existing network of institutions or are currently enabled to sell through procurement frameworks can benefit from becoming a reseller, enhancing their public sector solutions offering with PEMS.

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