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6. Educational Programmes

6.1 Pre-registration Programmes

6.1.1 Approvals/Re-approvals of Pre-registration Programmes

During the 2008-9 academic year the AAB has been involved in the review and re-approval of the following pre-registration programmes:

  • City University – approval of Radiotherapy Bridging Programme
  • University of Exeter – re-approval of BSc(Hons) Medical Imaging (Diagnostic Radiography)
  • Sheffield Hallam University – re-approval of BSc(Hons) Radiotherapy and Oncology programme and BSc(Hons) Diagnostic Radiography programme
  • Sheffield Hallam University – re-approval of Dip HE in Radiotherapy and Oncology Practice
  • University of Cumbria – approval of BSc(Hons) Diagnostic Radiography
  • Glasgow Caledonian University – re-approval of BSc (Hons) Radiotherapy and Oncology and BSc (Hons) Diagnostic Imaging
  • University of Derby – re-approval of BSc(Hons) Diagnostic Radiography.

Currently, 25 EIs are accredited to offer diagnostic and therapeutic radiography programmes, successful completion of which leads to accreditation as a practitioner and eligibility to apply for registration with the HPC.

25 EIs are accredited to offer diagnostic radiography programmes

  • 21 EIs are accredited to offer programmes of three years duration
  • 3 EIs are accredited to offer programmes of four years duration
  • London South Bank University is accredited to offer a 4-year part-time in service BSc(Hons) Diagnostic Radiography programme
  • Anglia Ruskin University is accredited to offer a 2-year part time distance learning BSc(Hons) Diagnostic Radiography as a top-up programme for Assistant Practitioners
  • University of Teesside is accredited to offer a PgD/MSc Diagnostic   Radiography programme.
  • No EIs are currently offering part-time BSc(Hons) Diagnostic Radiography programmes. However, Birmingham City University, University of Derby, University of Hertfordshire, Sheffield Hallam University, University of Cumbria and University of the West of England are approved to run part-time routes.

15 EIs are accredited to offer therapeutic radiography programmes:

  • 12 EIs are accredited to offer programmes of three years duration
  • 2 EIs are accredited to offer programmes of four years duration
  • London South Bank University is accredited to offer a 4-year part time BSc (Hons) Therapeutic Radiography programme
  • Anglia Ruskin University is accredited to offer a 2-year part time distance learning BSc (Hons) Therapeutic Radiography as a top-up programme for Assistant Practitioners
  • Sheffield Hallam University and Queen Margaret University are accredited to offer PgD Therapeutic Radiography programmes
  • London South Bank University is accredited to offer a PgD/MSc Therapeutic Radiography.
  • No EIs are currently offering part-time BSc(Hons) Therapeutic Radiography programmes. However, Birmingham City University, University of Hertfordshire and University of the West of England are approved to run part-time routes.

The University of Hertfordshire was approved to recruit a February intake for its radiotherapy programme to compensate for a shortfall at the start of the academic year. The Board believes this situation may continue in subsequent years for other education institutions with education to be delivered in a different format.

City University has been approved to defer the review of the BSc(Hons) Diagnostic Radiography to 2011 from 2010.

The University of Wales Bangor changed its awarding body in July 2009. All entrants from September 2009 will now be awarded a Bangor University degree. Additionally, the university was given extended approval for their undergraduate programme with a review requested to take place prior to the 2009-10 academic year

Birmingham City University has been approved to increase its radiotherapy cohort numbers from 30 to 33 subject to a report to indicate the impact of the increase after the first year.

University Campus Suffolk has moved premises into a new building on the water front. Approval has been given for the new facility.

6.1.2 Entry Numbers (first years) to Pre-Registration Programmes

Table 1, below, illustrates the number of diagnostic and therapeutic radiography first year students registered with EIs. This data was collected from the completed CoR annual monitoring schedules with a census date of November 1st 2008.

Table 1 

Number of first year students registered with the EIs
Diagnostic Students Therapeutic Students
1353 333

This year all EIs submitted their data for inclusion in this report. This is very much appreciated as it is imperative that CoR collects all the relevant data from each EI in order to produce reliable data, which can be used as evidence to support students and EIs in the future.

6.1.3 Comparison of commissioned/funded student numbers with EI student uptakes

Using data provided by EIs, the graphs below (2a and 2b) represent an overview of the commissioned/funded student numbers in comparison with uptake of students to radiography programmes in EIs.

Graph 2a

Graph 2b


  • "Undersubscribed" means fewer students enrolling on the course than the number of commissioned / funded places.

  • "On target" means the number of students enrolling on the course equalled the number of commissioned / funded places.
"Oversubscribed" means more students enrolling on the course than the number of commissioned / funded places.

The SCoR data is incomplete due to not all EIs providing intake data for all years.

From the diagrams it is clear to see the trend is that therapeutic programmes are increasingly undersubscribed. This is of major concern due to the expansion taking place within the radiotherapy services.

Examples of reasons given by EIs for under subscribing of diagnostic imaging programmes are:

  • Insufficient applications
  • Fewer applicants achieved necessary grades than expected
  • Limited by clinical capacity (52). Target recruitment = 55; spare places filled from waiting list, currently no students taken from clearing.
  • Several students left very early on in the programme i.e. just prior to starting and within the first few weeks.
  • Shortage of clinical placements.
  • Successful applicants deferred because of pregnancy. It was then too late to fill places.

Examples of reasons given by EIs for under subscribing of radiotherapy programmes are:

  • Insufficient applications (identified as a reason at 10 institutions).
  • Applicants chose to go elsewhere or dropped out at the last minute because of finances.
  • Many enquiries made for this programme, but many of these were from overseas applicants, frequently medically qualified unable to gain employment in medicine.
  • Suitability and understanding of therapeutic radiography is an issue

Examples of successful strategies for meeting commissioned/funding numbers targets given by EIs for diagnostic imaging programmes are:

  • Actively found and participated in local careers events such as school visits and hospital open days.
  • Collaborate with organisations such as Aim Higher.
  • Work with clinical colleagues to run regular Visit Days, which are offered to students holding an offer with us and provide an opportunity to learn more about the career, course and facilities (including a tour of our new skills facility). 
  • Progression Agreements with local feeder institutions meaning that careers in radiography are highlighted as an option within their prospectuses.
  • Use of existing students and ambassadors for recruitment on open and interview days.
  • Enhancing publicity material.
  • Improved short-listing criteria along with improved interview questions and grading of candidates at interview using set criteria.
  • Students have a clinical visit before they attend for interview and have to complete a clinical visit form to encourage them do their own research about radiography prior to interview.
  • Open evenings for prospective applicants and open evenings for students and families who have been offered places.
  • School Taster days where prospective students have talks on all disciplines within the School rather than choosing a particular profession.

Examples of successful strategies for meeting commissioned/funding numbers targets given by EIs for radiotherapy programmes are:

  • "Aim Higher" days and "Boys into health" days for schools 
  • Open Days at Career development conferences.
  • VERT as a recruitment tool.
  • Local radio station interviews
  • Local recruitment to placement sites.
  • Open days at the University with subject specific talks and tours and use of VERT
  • Taster days for 6th forms using VERT.
  • Use local radio stations backed up by 30 second adverts, at key times of the day, for a period of 2 weeks at a time, at appropriate times of the year.
  • Developed a year 0 programme which guarantees successful candidates who complete the year successfully a place on our programme. 5 places are available but where other health professions do not fill their places the EI have been able to accept more.

6.1.4 Pre-Registration Student Intake Details

The CoR monitors pre-registration student intakes in detail. Further summary information on intakes is given in Appendices 1-3 as follows.

  • Student intakes for all UK pre-registration radiography courses (i.e. all BSc(Hons) and postgraduate programme): Actual intakes compared to CoR approved intakes
  • Range and average intake figures for EIs for the academic years 2005-2008
  • Attrition rates

Graph 3a below demonstrates the student intakes for all UK pre-registration courses in the UK for therapeutic radiography between 2005-8.

Graph 3a

Graph 3b below demonstrates the student intakes for all UK pre-registration courses in the UK for diagnostic radiography between 2005-8.

Graph 3b


6.1.5 Clinical Placements for Pre-Registration

Data was collected on new clinical placements providing experience for pre-registration students. The 25 completed surveys share a total of 223 major clinical placements providing clinical education for diagnostic radiography students and 55 major clinical placements for therapeutic radiography students.

6.1.6 Completion Numbers for Pre-Registration Programmes

Table 4 below shows the number of students that graduated during 2009, and thus became available to the radiography workforce in the United Kingdom.

Table 4

  Diagnostic Therapeutic
874 BSc (Hons) 178 BSc (Hons)
5 MSc 1 PgD
Total 879 179

Source: Pass lists from EIs

Appendix 4 demonstrates the distribution of degree classification for both diagnostic and therapeutic graduates for 2008 and 2009.

6.1.7 Student Attrition

The level of attrition for both diagnostic imaging and therapeutic radiography training programmes remain worryingly high. The document ‘Modernising Education, Training and Regulation’ published by the Department of Health in 2000 stated allied health professions attrition rate should not exceed 10% in pre-registration training. Colleagues at other AHP professional bodies report attrition rates within this region. For the 2008-9 academic year the attrition rate is 26% for diagnostic imaging and 37.3% for therapeutic programmes.

However, this shows a significant improvement from previous years with a 10.6% improvement in attrition for diagnostic students when compared to the data collated in the previous year and a 5.4% improvement in the attrition rate for therapeutic radiographers. A summary is provided below (Table 5) with additional data located in appendix 3.

Table 5

Attrition Rates for Diagnostic Imaging and Therapeutic Programmes between 2006-9

Year Diagnostic Imaging
Programme Attrition
2008-9 26.0% 37.3%
2007-8 36.6% 42.7%
2006-7 31.7% 48.7%

There are several issues that arise from continuously high attrition figures. EIs are under considerable pressure from commissioning agencies and from the EIs themselves to reach target numbers. Additionally, without an adequate workforce supply, health care targets for cancer and waiting times will not be met and certainly not sustained. There is an urgent need to reduce attrition even further.

However, how this is achieved is not answered easily. Factors affecting attrition cannot be attributed to one reason as the issues involved are multi-factorial and may differ between EIs.

In response to the high attrition rate the CoR has published the ‘Improving Student Retention: Guideline & Good Practice’ document. The document can be downloaded via the following link The guidelines presented within this document reiterate many of the strategies and good practice initiatives already in place in most, if not all, universities which offer radiography education programmes. The intention of the document is to look at a number of identified risk factors which impact on retention rates, to identify within each of those factors certain retention goals and to provide guidelines supported by evidence from a range of healthcare professionals and other Higher Education courses. Case studies are provided and there is some explanation as to how some radiography programmes and other HE programmes have tackled particular risk factors. Through the sharing of these experiences, initiatives and good practice the CoR hope that retention of radiography students may be maximised.

Most of the guidelines presented in the document are generally common sense approaches to retention and many are being widely used across the UK; they are reiterated together with background evidence which hopefully may facilitate discussion and consideration. These guidelines therefore are intended to help in the development of strategies which can be specific to local circumstances.

The recently published SCoR Student and Recent Graduate Survey 2009 illuminated some further interesting facts. Graphs 6a and 6b overleaf demonstrate reasons student identified as to why they did not complete either a diagnostic imaging or radiotherapy course.

Graph 6a

Graph 6b


Radiography courses, taught at 25 universities in the UK, all report that a significant number of students fail to complete the first year. When asked for reasons as to why their peers left the course, the two most common reasons were 'wrong career choice' and 'finding it too difficult'.

Graphs 7 and 8 below demonstrate reasons student identified as to why they chose radiography as a subject to study and why they chose specific courses.

Graph 7

Graph 8

Examples of successful strategies developed by EIs for reducing attrition are:

  • Attention to attendance.
  • Close liaison with clinical colleagues
  • Availability of staff for one-to-one pastoral support.
  • Cross School recruitment and retention group enabling sharing of good practice.
  • Development of enhanced support mechanisms.
  • Each student has a Personal tutor.
  • Student to student mentoring - new second year students mentor new first year students.
  • Student representatives on the programme management group.
  • Clinical liaison groups.
  • Staff student forum. 
  • For the first 9 weeks of semester 1 first year students spend one day a week in the clinical department, this is prior to the major clinical block at the end of the semester. This time allows the student to start and get to know the department and the hospital and how it functions. This time allows the student to build professional relationships with staff and interact with patients 
  • Use of lecturer/practitioners to support students in practice.
  • Assessment feedback normally within 4 weeks. 
  • Electronic feedback which can be accessed on and off campus.
  • Clinical audits of departments.
  • Retention support officer - not part of team. 
  • Greater use of formative assessments.
  • Red light warning system for potential academically failing students
  • The appointment of Student Support Officers and facilitating drop in sessions for peer support.
  • Programme redesign where the emphasis was placed upon improving the student experience. This has resulted in a reduction in assessment loading and the use of more varied assessment methods together with improved support mechanisms for students.  
  • Tutorial support for students with learning difficulties. The University runs an 'access to learning' fund which radiography students can apply to for additional funding. Personal tutor, clinical lecturer and mentor support to identify difficulties early and signpost specialist support to students.

Student retention has become an issue for a wide audience and CoR expects its work in this area to continue in the next academic year.

6.1.8 Diversity profile of graduates from pre-registration radiography programmes in 2009

The following graph (9) has been produced using data taken from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and the SCoR database for radiography graduates. The ONS statistics are taken as the percentage of UK working-age population by ethnic group in 2002-3. This is the latest data available.

Graph 9

*Percentage of UK working-age population by ethnic group, 2002-03 (data from later years not available as of July 2009. Source: National Statistics website: Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI). Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence.
Includes those who have graduated throughout the academic year e.g. 2009 graduates includes those graduating from 01/09/2008 to 31/08/2009

The graph below (10) demonstrates the gender of BSc(Hons) radiography graduates in 2009 in relation to 2006-8. It shows that the profession is still significantly dominated by females. Therefore, there continues to be a potential growth area for EIs to promote radiography education to males. Graph 11 illustrates the age range of BSc(Hons) radiography graduates in 2009 in relation to 2006-7. Although the range seen in 2009 is similar to previous years, it will be interesting to see if this changes in future years with the focus on widening access to education.

Graph 10

Graph 11

6.1.9 Society and College of Radiographers Student and Recent Graduate Survey 2009

The Student and Recent Graduate Survey 2009 has recently been published and is available via the following web link

This document presents an analysis of an online survey of students and recent graduates run by the SoR in July 2009. The survey was targeted at current radiography students and graduates from radiography degrees since 2008. Respondents were asked about their motivations for studying radiography, details of their finances and their experiences since graduating.

The survey was anonymous and covered as many students and recent graduates as possible. 3705 potential subjects were identified from the SCoR membership database and emailed to ask if they would complete the online questionnaire. The survey was also advertised in the SoR email newsletter Student Talk and on the SoR website. Respondents were offered the option of entering a prize draw if they completed the online survey. 573 individuals completed the survey.

The survey was designed to ask respondents different questions depending on their year of graduation: current students were asked questions about the reasons they chose to study radiography and why some students do not complete the course; recent graduates were asked their experiences in their first job. All respondents were asked questions about their finances including how they financed their degree and their level of debt on graduation.

The results illuminated some very interesting facts. 78% of diagnostic imaging and radiotherapy students have to borrow large amounts of money to complete their university course. Most expect to graduate owing at least £5000. Nearly a third said they will have debt of more than £10,000. See graphs 12 and 13 below.

Graph 12

Graph 13

When asked what the solution was to help stop this build-up of indebtedness, half of the students surveyed said that they should be employed by the NHS during their course. Radiography students spend up to 50% of their university course on placements in hospital departments.
The study also found that despite a squeeze on National Health Service funding, job prospects remained good with three-quarters of this year's graduates having arranged their first job and almost nine out of ten students who graduated in 2008 having begun employment within two months of leaving university.

Graph 14 below demonstrates 76% of 2009 graduates had arranged employment for after graduation. This indicates that most graduates do not have difficulty finding work which is exceptionally positive given the current global economic crisis. However, mature graduates may find it harder to arrange jobs, as in general they are more likely to be restricted by family commitments to their local area.

Graph 14

Graph 15 below shows 91% of 2008 graduates started their first job within three months of graduation, confirming that in general, the job market for recent graduates remains strong.

Graph 15

6.2 Postgraduate Post Registration Programmes

The AAB continues to approve courses at postgraduate level across the scope of practice of radiography and has been involved in the following approvals and re-approvals during the period covered by this report:

  1. Canterbury Christ Church University – re-approval of MSc Clinical Reporting programme
  2. Sheffield Hallam University – approval of MSc/PgD/PgC Supportive and Palliative Care programme
  3. University of Dundee – re-approval MSc Advance Practice (Diagnostic Imaging) and Postgraduate certificate in Clinical Image Reporting programme
  4. Queen Margaret University – re-approval of MSc Radiotherapy programme

6.3 Assistant Practitioner Programmes

It is clear we have reached a point where the majority of institutions have now developed assistant practitioner programmes. As of May 2009 the number of accredited assistant practitioners programmes are as follows:

18 Clinical imaging
10 Therapeutic Radiography
11 Breast screening

Approval has been given for London South Bank University to defer review of their FdSc Diagnostic Imaging from 2009 until 2010.

Diagram 16 below indicates the trend in accredited assistant practitioners from 2007-9.

Diagram 16

The AAB continues to believe that, in the interests of public safety and the safety of those who are providing clinical supervision, each practising assistant practitioner should seek to become accredited, and that service managers should support them in this. Accreditation with or without Society membership, enables the individual to access CPDNow and other on-line material to support their career development and continuing professional development.

6.4 Practice Educator Accreditation Scheme (PEAS)

The Practice Educator Accreditation Scheme (PEAS) has now been in existence for two and a half year years. At the end of August 2009 there were 138 practice educators registered: 2 having followed the experiential route and the remaining 136 either the fast track route or via approved programmes.

The diagram below (17) indicates the trend in registered practice educators since the register opened. It can be seen that there has been minimal submitted applications for accreditation during the last year.

Diagram 17

Concern has been raised about how the scheme could be marketed better to practitioners. The Board recognises it is imperative to clarify how the scheme can benefit individuals and it is hoped practice educators yet to be accredited will recognise the link with the CPD requirements of the HPC.
One of the most positive ways forward is to continue to devise a one scheme approach with other AHPs which has been supported by the Allied Health Professions Federation (AHPF) Education Leads Group. As such CoR is continuing its work with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) and the College of Occupational Therapists (COT) towards devising a unified approach. Current projects include the three professional bodies working on linking the practice educator sections of each of their professions websites together.

It has been agreed that common branding of the three schemes would support the promotion to members.

The joint meetings between the three professional bodies provide opportunities to identify and address emerging issues of common interest, share emerging best practices and progress towards a common framework with bespoke features.

Considerable work has been undertaken in seeking engagement with other AHPs to ensure that the unified approach allows inclusion of all professions. As a result all AHPs have been invited to attend an event in September 2009 aimed at showcasing the current schemes, discussing the vision of the one scheme approach and developing a way forward.

In March 2009 a joint CPD day was delivered to 30 accredited practice educators (10 places from each of the three schemes were offered) in York in collaboration with the Higher Education Academy, CSP and COT. This was the first multiprofessional practice educator event to be provided and the feedback was exceptionally positive. It is hoped further collaborations will be made available in the next year.

In addition, a meeting with the DH in England has been held to discuss the three schemes since practice education was are one of the key themes highlighted at the Modernising Allied Health Professions Career Education Summit in 2008. It is clear the DH is looking into the accreditation of AHP practice educators with developments in this area expected in the coming year. It was hoped that the CoR accreditation framework and process would be taken into account when considering how the DH may take this forward. It was also anticipated that CoR, COT and CSP would sit on the DH steering committee.

There now stands 17 accredited practice educator programmes. This includes one programme by the CSP and two by COT that COR has accepted by reciprocal arrangement.

6.5 Short Courses

Submissions for short courses continue to be received. However, this year the number of submissions has declined. The short courses approved this academic year are:

  1. Cardiff University – approval of PgC Independent (Non Medical) Prescribing
  2. Classmasters Ltd – re-approval of Intravenous Injection course

The AAB continues to encourage the development of a range of short courses to support    continuing professional development and hopes educational providers will continue developing innovative short courses to support practice in the next academic year.

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