Q: I started my MSc in social work in September but I want to leave. I haven’t enjoyed it at all and have been struggling with dyslexia. I scraped a 50% in my last essay which I am so disheartened about as I really put my all into it. I have come to realise that maybe I’m just not cut out for academia. But I would like to leave with some sort of qualification. Also, what will happen with the bursary and tuition fees – will I have to pay these back?
A: You mention struggling with dyslexia – I would hope that you have received support with this, from the disability and dyslexia service within the student support unit at the university, and that reasonable adjustments had been made for you in submitting assignments (for example, more time to allow for proof-reading).
If you were on the master’s course at Cardiff University, it would not be possible to leave with any qualification at the end of the first year. Some master’s courses may comprise of credit-bearing modules, and if you left, then 60 M-level credits (half the course) would usually give you a postgraduate certificate, but obviously not a licence to practice social work.
The Care Council for Wales’ position regarding the bursary is that if you left at the end of the academic year, as it is calculated (31 August), there would be nothing to pay back. If you leave before the end of the year, you would be asked to pay back the pro rata proportion of the bursary. You would not have to pay back any tuition fees.
I would wish to explore whether you feel that social work is not for you – you refer to “not enjoying it at all” – or a specific issue concerning doing well in written assignments. I would hope you received detailed feedback on your last essay, in which you obtained 50%, concerning what issues need to be addressed, but also highlighting areas where you had succeeded, as it was a pass.
You should receive appropriate support throughout the whole course, and I am aware of students with dyslexia who have received low marks at the beginning of the course, but have improved substantially over the two years.
To succeed on a master’s course, you do need good academic skills certainly, but these can be developed. Social workers also need good practice skills, you do not mention your experience of practice, and it would be a shame if a potentially excellent social worker left the course on the basis of the mark received on one assignment.
Colin Young is professional tutor at the school of social sciences, Cardiff University
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This article is published in the 8 April issue of Community Care magazine under the heading ‘I want to quit my MSc course in social work’