Students angered over care council’s failure to fund transition to degree

The Department of Health and General Social Care Council have come
under pressure from social work students this week to prove their
commitment to the profession.

In a letter to the Department of Health, second year Diploma in
Social Work student Rosalind Scate has criticised the government’s
decision to refuse bursaries to students who wish to stay on an
extra year to top up to degree level after completing their diploma
this year.

She said the move, worth £4,250 a year including tuition fees,
would leave many students who have passed their DipSW with no
option but to leave higher education and start work.

Scate questioned whether, given the recruitment crisis, this was
the policy’s intended effect, “despite the government’s rhetoric
assuring us that the profession will become a graduate one”.

She added that the third year course that would convert her DipSW
into a BSc Hons in social work studies would include modules on
multi-disciplinary practice and research – both key to the
government’s plans for the sector’s future.

A spokesperson for the DoH apologised for the “distress” caused,
but said the department was “unable” to provide any help as
bursaries were the GSCC’s responsibility.

However, the GSCC said that it was only following DoH guidance. A
spokesperson added that the third year courses on offer next year
would not be part of new social work degree courses accredited by
the GSCC.

“The DoH’s view is that it pays for students up to the moment of
qualification,” she said. “If they choose a top-up year, they are
already qualified.”

Meanwhile, first-year DipSW students with children who last year
qualified for both a dependents allowance and child tax credit were
told last week that the allowance was no longer available.

Roddy Gould, a first year student in Swansea, said this amounted to
a cut of £4,300, and would cast serious doubt over whether he
and other students in the same position would be able to complete
their second year.

“I knew when I came on the course that I could get both,” Gould
said. “We started with one grant and have ended up with one that’s
half the value the next year.”

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