Sign the open letter to support social work students across England calling for bursary reform

A Harry Venning "Clare in the Community" illustration with the caption "SWU/BASW Student Bursary Campaign". Social worker Claire walks beside a friend through a university campus filled with diverse students and says to her friend, "Today's students have it so much easier than we did. They don't have all the distractions of what to spend a grant on..."

The momentum of the England student bursary campaign is growing with over 250 signatures – add your name to the open letter today!

SWU General Secretary John McGowan said, “We’ve heard from students just how difficult their situations are at the moment and we now need them to speak out and add their names to the open letter

“We’ve already supported Welsh students in their successful campaign to have the Welsh Government increase funding for student support by 50% and helped Scottish students win the backing of a powerful cross-party committee of MSPs for fairer bursaries. 

“Now it is England’s turn for a fairer bursary system for social work students.”

We call on social work students and professionals to sign the “open letter” to the UK Secretaries of State for Health. The letter outlines the unique levels of financial hardship that social work students face while completing their studies and calls for a reform of the bursary system.

Student bursaries for social workers in England are currently distributed unequally and only around one in six students benefit from them. The number of available bursaries (1,500 postgraduate and 2,500 undergraduate) has not changed since 2013. Where bursaries are available, the funding for them has been frozen for over eight years resulting in a real-terms cut in support for many students.

BASW Professional Officer Rebekah Pierre commented, “How can social work students be expected to support others, when they themselves are desperately struggling to survive the cost-of-living crisis?  Students are the future of social work, and without investing in them, the profession as a whole is put at risk. The time for well-meaning words is over – it is time for politicians to put their money where their mouth is.”

Click here to learn more about this campaign that is being led by students, for students.

SWU has also recently discussed potential options for joint campaigning with BASW Northern Ireland which may include a student-led bursary campaign supported by the SWU Campaign Fund.

A special thanks goes out to SWU Ambassador and award-winning cartoonist, illustrator, and comedy writer Harry Venning for this brilliant “Clare in the Community” illustration!