Social care professionals remain sceptical that the government’s
new bursary scheme for social work students will help address the
workforce shortage, writes Derren
From next September social work students will receive at least
£3,000 a year in living and travelling expenses – around
£60 a week – and £1,075 in tuition fees.
The bursary will be available to students doing the new 3-year
social work degree or new and existing DipSW, who receive no
funding from their local education authority or employers. Extra
allowances will be available to those who have disabilities or
dependents and who do not already have a degree.
The new bursary is in addition to the existing means-tested
maintenance grant of between £2,714-£4,316 offered by the
General Social Care Council for students with a first degree who do
not receive any other support.
A combination of both the new bursary and grant will bring
funding for social work students nearer to levels enjoyed by nurses
(a maximum of £6,232 with a possible £2,578 extra), and
teachers (a basic £6,000 or £7,000 for hard-to-recruit
Owen Davies, Unison’s national officer for social services
Unison, said it was only a “small” step in the right direction.
“People that go into social work are often older than those in
other sectors, and may have family responsibilities,” he said.
“It makes it very tough financially for a lot of social work
students to survive, and is a major reason why some can’t
Hilary Simon, secretary of the resources committee of the
Association of Directors of Social Services, said many social work
students have to continue working, which affects their academic
“This will help, but at the rate it is the impact will be
marginal,” said Simon.