Funding chaos may deter new students

Prospective social work students may be deterred from applying
for the three-year degree that starts in September because of
confusion over funding entitlements, writes Sally

The £3,000 bursary, which was announced by health minister
Jacqui Smith last year as part of a package of measures to boost
applicants to the new degree, was designed to address the national
shortage of social workers.

But just months before the first intake of students is due to
start the course, it has emerged that callers to the General Social
Care Council, which will administer the bursary, are being told
that a decision on what is available will not be made until

Those staffing the information line are also telling potential
applicants that they cannot yet confirm whether the bursary will be
available to everyone, despite Smith’s pledge it would be

Nine of 10 local education authorities contacted by
Community Care were unaware of the new fund, and all 10
contacted were unable to advise where more information could be

One mother of three considering applying for a degree place,
said: “I am sure all this confusion about what funding there is
could put people off applying. They may decide they cannot afford
to give up their job before they know what money they will

The woman, who preferred not to be named, added: “I am really
worried about giving up my job – the last thing I want is to lose
my house – in case I can’t manage. The person I spoke
to at my LEA said she knew nothing about the bursary, and has had
loads of calls from people wanting the same information.”

A GSCC spokesperson said: “We are sorry if anyone has had
problems getting information on bursaries. Anyone who wants to do
the degree should apply to their LEA now, and then for a bursary
when more information is available in April.”

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