Planned reforms to the social work bursary system in England have been pushed back until 2013, the Department of Health has confirmed.
Under the current system, the DH offers bursaries to social work students to cover their tuition fees, at a total cost of around £70m per year - but this was due to be reviewed at the beginning of 2011.
However, ministers have 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.
A spokesperson for the DH said: "Any changes taking place will affect the 2013 academic year. Existing students, including those starting in 2012, will be able to obtain the bursary at its current rate."
Moira Gibb, chair of the Social Work Reform Board, welcomed the delay, pointing out that it would give more time to gauge what difference the bursary has made to the social work degree.
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
DH to launch consultation on social work bursaries
Social work academics warn ministers over student fee rises