SWU Campaign Fund update: Student led campaign increases financial support for social work students in Wales

Social Workers Union (SWU) Campaign Fund

Starting from September 2022, the bursary for both undergraduates and postgraduates in Wales will be increased by over 50%

The MASW Social Work Bursary Campaign was one of the first campaigns to be supported through the SWU Campaign Fund, which was launched last year in partnership with social enterprise Campaign Collective. This campaign was sparked by the disparity of support between health students and social work students, with the typical social worker undergraduate ending up qualifying with more than £40,000 in debt.

Social work students in Wales celebrated in February 2022 when this campaign – led by Cardiff MASW students, and supported by BASW Cymru and the SWU Campaign Fund – resulted in the Welsh Government pledging action on improving bursaries. We are thrilled to say that the Welsh Government has now published details of the changes that will come into force in the 2022/23 academic year.

Julie Morgan MS, Deputy Minister for Social Services announced this week in a written statement and press release that social work students will receive more financial support which is in line with the aim to achieve parity of esteem between the health and social care workforce. The enhanced financial support will be available for both undergraduate and postgraduate students in Wales through the Social Work Bursary which will provide almost £10 million over the next three years to assist future social workers.

Matthew Davies is one of the social work students who led the campaign and has recently become a NQSW. He said, “We are thrilled with the successful outcome of the campaign. Welsh Government has agreed to amend secondary legislation that negatively impacted social worker students in Wales, and increase student funding by 50%. These changes will no doubt have a massive impact. 

“As members of SWU we became aware of the campaign fund, and would like to re state our thanks for the fund’s support which included strategy guidance and assistance with drafting our correspondence to government.  It has been said our student voice and experience was the grassroots driver in this endeavour, still, we believe the success of the campaign would not have been achieved without the support we received, in particular from BASW Cymru and the SWU.”

John McGowan, SWU General Secretary, said, “The Social Workers Union applauds the decision to provide social work students with enhanced financial support and the altruism of these future social workers who have uplifted the cohorts that will train after them. The recruitment, training, and retention of students is critical to ensuring the future of social work and therefore we rightly should be supporting those who want to join our profession.

“The MASW Social Work Bursary Campaign is one of the first campaigns supported by the SWU Campaign Fund and we are thrilled at this positive result for social work students in Wales. SWU is proud to support our activist members and will continue to support member-led campaigns through the SWU Campaign Fund which is currently open for applications.”

Any SWU member who would like to run their own campaign is welcome to submit ideas for funding by filling out the SWU Campaign Fund Application Form and returning it via email. Visit the SWU Campaign Fund webpage for more details.