Social work students voice anger at confusion over bursary payments

Angry social work students have criticised the General Social Care
Council for confusion over bursary entitlements which led to them
being told they would receive no financial help and would have to
return payments already made.

Some of the 62 students affected, who were either doing a top-up
year for the DipSW or another academic course, were told they would
have to pay back the first instalment of £1,500. Only students
on the new three-year social work degree that started last year are
entitled to the bursary.

Pauline Pearson, a student at Northampton College, said she was
angry about uncertainty caused by the GSCC’s lack of clarity over
who was eligible for the cash.

She was in her second year of her course and had decided to
conclude her studies and get the DipSW award when the GSCC told her
she would be entitled to a bursary.

She decided to take up the offer and work towards a degree but last
month was informed by telephone there had been a mistake and she
would no longer receive financial help.

Last week, the GSCC, which got clarification last December from the
Department of Health, wrote to students saying it would honour its
commitment to paying the bursary but has asked them to sign a
declaration that they are not eligible for it.

But 21 students who applied for the bursary after December will not
be entitled to it. Pearson said: “The GSCC is supposed to be
responsible for registering social workers and maintaining the code
of practice. It’s a bit rich when they can’t get their
administrative system right.”

Director of corporate resources at the GSCC Chris Pottinger said:
“We’ve taken action to resolve any issues as soon as they arise and
have reviewed our forms and processes so they don’t recur. We have
made every effort to ensure that students who have been relying on
the bursary don’t suffer as a result of any confusion on this

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