Exclusive: Social work students left without course by university bombshell

The University of Liverpool has scrapped its new undergraduate
social work degree course because of a lack of funds,
writes Derren Hayes.

The decision was taken less than six months before the course
was due to start and at a time when the sector is in desperate need
of more qualified social workers.

It could leave 29 students, who had been offered provisional
places, unable to find alternative courses this year at other

The problem arose when the Higher Education Funding Council for
England (Hefce) decided not to offer funding because the university
had initially applied to run a two-year foundation degree course
then changed it to the new degree.

A University of Liverpool spokesperson said Hefce’s
decision had left it with “no alternative”, but to
withdraw the course because “we cannot register students on a
programme which would be underfunded”.

The university spokesperson added that the course had always
been cited as provisional in its prospectus, pending confirmation
of funding. It has advised students of their options and offered
further help through its admissions office.

But a Hefce spokesperson said it was “disingenuous”
to blame the council, adding that it did not have “a blank
cheque to respond to every institution’s

However, one of the affected students, Simon Lacey, said he had
only been told of the situation when he phoned the
university’s social work department last week and had still
received no letter of confirmation. He said he had been left
“devastated” by the news.

“I don’t seem to have any options open to me now.
They should have sorted this out before interviews were carried out
and people were accepted.”

Neighbouring Liverpool John Moore’s University, which is
also running a social work undergraduate course, might be able to
offer places to some of the affected students.

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