Welsh students in England struggle to survive after funding cut

Social work students from Wales who study in England and other parts of the UK are struggling to make ends meet after no longer being eligible for bursaries from the Welsh regulator.

One student from South Wales, who attends Birmingham University, wrote to Community Care to complain that she had been forced to camp because she cannot afford student accommodation.

The British Association of Social Workers Cymru is now calling on Welsh ministers to review the funding cuts, which came into effect this academic year.

Keith Drury, chair of BASW Cymru, said the decision to limit funds to those studying in Wales had the “potential to discriminate”.

He added: “The policy executed through the Care Council for Wales must be revised to ensure full support is given to all social work students from Wales and to ensure those who reside in Wales but study in England are treated fairly and equitably.”

The Care Council for Wales, which oversees recruitment and funded more than 600 social work students in 2009-10, said its main priority was ensuring a sufficient supply of social workers in Wales.

A spokesperson said demand for the Social Work Bursary Scheme had outstripped the amount of funding it gained from the Welsh assembly government to support students.

The new arrangements, which came into affect in September, have led to growing concern about how Welsh students studying in England, Scotland or Northern Ireland would pay for tuition fees, petrol money, living costs and books.

In her letter to Community Care, the student from Rhondda, in her first year of the masters degree course at Birmingham University, said: “I am extremely passionate about becoming a social worker, and the course has not disappointed. However, no funding has made life extremely difficult.

“I am unable to afford accommodation while studying and camping has been my only option.”

The CCW said it “firmly believed” it was operating the scheme as fairly as possible given that its overall budget has been reduced.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland, funding is only available to students studying within those countries. English students are currently eligible for funding regardless of where they study.

A spokesperson for the Welsh assembly government said: “We have noted the concerns set out by BASW Cymru and will discuss these with the care council.”

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