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1.1 Internships are educational and career developmental opportunities providing practical experience in a field or discipline. They are structured, short-term, supervised placements often focused around particular tasks or projects with defined timescales. Interns benefit from enriched skills, achieving a contribution to a project and gaining insights and new perspectives from professionals in a discipline of work.
1.2 Internships normally refer to placements undertaken by students from further, higher or adult education courses during vacations, in between courses or when they have finished their course. They may also be undertaken by adults who wish to pursue a new career path.
1.3 Internships do not cover compulsory placements of a further or higher education course which are normally agreed between a student, university and an employer. They also do not cover short work experience placements which are normally undertaken in the last two years of compulsory schooling – please see the Work Experience Policy.
2.1 Voluntary agreement
Interns are engaged on a voluntary basis and are not members of staff. There is no contractual obligation between UCL and interns and accordingly they will not receive normal employee entitlements such as a salary or annual leave.
2.2 Period of engagement and payment of expenses
Unpaid internships should last no longer than four months. Work related expenses including travel to and from the workplace must be provided to the intern by the host department. The intern should provide receipts, and the host department should arrange for it to be paid through finance.
Internships may extend beyond four months to a maximum of one year, A flat rate weekly expense allowance of £230 is provided for full time duties, either from the start of the internship, or they can receive receipted expenses for the first 4 months and then the flat rate only for the remaining duration of the internship. This flat-rate expenses payment should be made using a Form 7 via SIP and will be subject to Tax and NI. Departments are required to obtain and keep evidence of right-to-work. The worker should submit a P45 or Starter Declaration to Payroll which will determine the rate of tax to be deducted.
The placement must be mutually beneficial for the intern and the department and therefore careful consideration may need to be given to the type of work to be undertaken. The work should be meaningful and provide an opportunity for interns to develop their professional skills and gain insights to the discipline of work whilst also adding value to the department. The internship Voluntary Agreement (Appendix A) should detail the work activities, timescales for completion and learning outcomes expected.
Internships must never be used to replace paid work positions or to cover regular or recurring work in a department. Where a department considers engaging someone in a paid capacity to undertake a specific role for a limited duration, this must be through a contract of employment (see Guidance on UCL contracts of employment). All such new roles must be graded using the process as outlined in the Grading Review Process Document and recruited for in the normal way.
Internship opportunities should be publicised to enable fair and equal access to all candidates. The opportunities may be placed on departmental websites and with the UCL Union or UCL Talent Bank and will normally outline: the internship project and duties, skills required, start date, duration, weekly hours and location. Interns should be selected on the basis of their skills to perform the project and may be interviewed if necessary. Once a candidate is selected, the internship Voluntary Agreement (Appendix A) should be completed and provided to the intern. The recruitment of interns must not be discriminatory and interns should be treated with professionalism and the same duty of care as members of UCL staff.
Non EEA students may be able to be sponsored for their internship under Tier 5 (Sponsored researchers and Visiting Academics category),if the following criteria are met:
- the work experience is supernumerary and involves taking part in a research project
- the student receives the flat rate weekly expense allowance. Unpaid internships cannot be covered through this route.
Please see the HR Immigration pages for information on how to apply for a Tier 5 certificate of sponsorship.
The host department must nominate a supervisor for the intern who should maintain regular contact, give necessary support and provide regular feedback on performance.
The supervisor is responsible for providing an induction including relevant information about the department, an explanation of the project/tasks and timescales for completion. Inductions will also need to address practical issues including; health and safety, working with children where applicable, confidentiality and access to IS systems.
3.4 Health and Safety
Before the internship commences, a health and safety risk assessment must be undertaken; identifying measures to be taken to control or eliminate risks. A health and safety induction should be conducted by the Departmental Safety Officer or Safety Representative on the intern's first day and be recorded on the Work Experience Induction Checklist.
3.5 Working with Children or Vulnerable Adults
Interns are not normally expected to work with children/vulnerable adults. Where this is the case, they must be made aware of the need to comply with the Working with Children guidelines and the need for a possible criminal records check before the placement. Please see the DBS Policy and speak to your HR Employment Contract Administration contact if you believe a criminal record check is required.
Interns must be informed of their responsibilities to maintain confidentiality of UCL data and information where such information is not already within the public domain and is indicated or understood to be confidential.
The department must meet their responsibilities for the intern's personal data under the Data Protection Policy by keeping personal details secure and destroying them no longer than 12 months after the placement ceases.
3.7 Access to IS systems
If the nature of the work requires access to IS systems, the intern may be given a temporary visitor IS account. Normally Departmental Administrators will be able to use the UCL Services System to request and revoke access to UCL services for visitors. The costs incurred in setting up and closing the account will be chargeable to the host department. The UCL Information Security Policy must be provided to interns granted IS access and their work must be closely monitored.
3.8 Visitors Card
Arrangements must be made to obtain a temporary visitors card for the intern from security systems.
3.9 Public Liability
UCL's public liability insurance policy covers those conducting voluntary work.
If the individual is registered via the UCL visitor system, they will automatically be covered by UCL's insurance. If for any reason they are not registered via the visitor system, the host department must forward the name of the intern, duration of the internship and brief description of the duties to the Insurance Manager, Finance Division.
Upon completion of the internship, the supervisor should meet with the intern to conduct a final review of performance and to obtain the interns’ views on the placement. A reference letter should be provided to the intern summarising the purpose of the internship, the work completed and the skills developed.
HR Policy and Planning
Updated December 2011
Appendix A - Internship Agreement
Please download the agreement by clicking on the link below.