Consultation on social work bursary scheme launched

Ministers seek views on how to use the bursary to drive up the quality of social work students.

Posed by models (David Oxberry/Mo
Posed by models (David Oxberry/Mo

A long-awaited consultation on the bursary arrangements for social work students in England was launched today by the Department of Health (DH).

The current system, under which the DH offers bursaries to social work students to cover their tuition fees at a total cost of around £70m per year, was due to be reviewed at the beginning of 2011 following a recommendation by the Social Work Task Force.

However, the DH agreed to delay the start of the consultation until early 2012 in the wake of wider reforms to the funding of higher education in England.

It is now seeking the views of students, employers, services users and careers, higher education institutions and other interested parties on how to maximise the bursary’s value for money while maintaining a sufficient supply of high quality new entrants to the profession

Five options have been proposed for reforming the scheme:

  1. Introduce a means-tested undergraduate and postgraduate bursary with cap on the number of students who receive the bursary
  2. Retain the postgraduate bursary, numbers capped
  3. Retain the undergraduate bursary from the second year and the current postgraduate scheme, numbers capped
  4. End the bursary completely and invest in other social work training
  5. Create a new scheme based on successful completion of the assessed and supported year in employment

The consultation closes on 27 July and the aim is to introduce the reformed system in time for the 2013 academic year.

Existing students, including those starting in the 2012 academic year, will not be affected by the review.

Find out more and respond to the consultation

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