Q: I am from Wales and have a place on a two-year social work master’s course at a university in England. I was told I could not receive funding through the NHS bursary scheme because I’m Welsh and have not lived in England for three years before starting the course. But the Care Council for Wales will not fund me either because I’m going to an English university. I don’t know how I’m going to afford the tuition fees, petrol money, living costs and books.
A: The social work bursary scheme, administered by the Care Council for Wales, is intended as an incentive to train, writes Delor Brown. It also hopes to raise the standards of social work practice in Wales; contribute to a sufficient supply of social workers in Wales in the future; and enable social work training to compete with what is on offer for other professions.
One of the principles of the scheme, set out by the Welsh assembly government which funds the Care Council, is that the grants are allocated to Welsh students studying in Wales in the first instance.
The Care Council uses the funds it receives to support social work training in line with the principles set out by the assembly government.
Members of the Care Council recently decided to cease providing bursaries for social work undergraduates studying outside Wales. This decision was made to reflect the level of funding now available to the Care Council and the principle of allocating bursaries in the first instance to those studying in Wales.
In 2009-10, the Care Council provided financial support for more than 600 social work students, including funding for bursaries, tuition fees and travel costs for undergraduates and post-graduates. In total, the funds available to the Care Council allow it to provide bursaries for about two-thirds of social work students in Wales.
It is also important to note that the number of places on social work courses at Welsh universities reflects the identified need for social workers in Wales.
Social work bursary schemes vary from across the UK nations. Social work students normally living in England and studying anywhere in the UK are eligible to apply for funding from the Social Work Bursary Business Services Authority.
Those students normally living in Scotland and Northern Ireland can only apply for funding from the Scottish Social Services Council and the Northern Ireland Social Services Inspectorate if they are studying in those countries. There is no funding available to students studying outside Scotland or Northern Ireland.
Because the Care Council for Wales now takes the same approach, it is not possible for the organisation to support this particular student.
If anyone is concerned about meeting the costs of study, they should contact the student services department at their university to ask about alternative funding sources. Or they may be eligible for a career development loan, more details of which are available at www.direct.gov.uk/cdl.
Delor Brown is manager, student funding, at the Care Council for Wales
This article is published in the 21 October issue of Community Care magazine under the heading Welsh students must pay their own way in England
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