Universities have defended their decisions not to host campus roadshow events planned by BASW – the College of Social Work.
Northumbria, Bedfordshire and Salford universities said they wished to remain impartial during the organisation’s ongoing dispute with the rival College of Social Work hosted by the Social Care Institute for Excellence.
BASW – the College of Social Work said that the University of the West of England also refused its request to host a meeting, designed to inform social workers and students about its recent decision to form a college.
The universities said they were aware of the controversy surrounding the British Association of Social Workers’ decision to rebrand as BASW – the College of Social Work on 24 January, in direct competition with the college already being developed under the reform programme in England.
Michael Preston-Shoot, dean of applied social studies at Bedfordshire University, branded the dispute “very public and damaging” and said the university would not host a BASW college event while it continued.
Northumbria University, which was the first institution to refuse to host an event, said it preferred to “remain impartial” during the discussions.
And a spokesperson for Salford University said: “We declined a recent BASW event in order to preserve our impartiality until the dispute is resolved nationally. We would urge both parties to enter into constructive negotiations for the benefit of the profession.”
Hilton Dawson, chief executive of BASW – the College of Social Work, said he was shocked to be treated “as if we’re hate preachers or any other group who should be banned from campus”.
He added: “Universities should encourage rational debate, not censorship.”
But Hilary Tompsett, chair of the Joint University Council’s social work education committee, said higher education institutions would not take sides in this debate.
“The important message that has come from the whole sector, but especially from the higher education community, is that we need to end up with a single voice for social work,” she said.
“It’s a delicate and critical time for the profession, with all the cuts going on, so the message from universities is that we would like to see a resolution.”
What do you think? Join the debate on CareSpace
Keep up to date with the latest developments in social care. Sign up to our daily and weekly emails