SWU submits evidence to bursaries review

A photo of the Scottish Parliament building

The Social Workers Union has submitted evidence to a formal review of student bursaries in Scotland to back campaigners calling for change.

The review was established by the Scottish Minister for Further & Higher Education, Graeme Dey MSP. It was confirmed in a recent letter to campaigners and came after a powerful cross-party committee of MSPs agreed to take action to support the need for social work university students to be provided with bursaries.

The Scottish Government said reviews are taking place on options to improve financing for those social work students who undertake work placements. 

In its evidence, SWU argues that bursaries for all third and fourth year undergraduate social work students in Scotland would ensure equality with other students who work in the public sector in front-line roles during their studies.

The Union sets out that its calculations show that the total for nursing, midwifery and paramedic bursaries currently on offer is a non-repayable £37,500, but for social work students the basic support available is between £20,400 and £32,400, mostly in the form of a repayable loan and depending on household income.

SWU also argues that failure to address the ability of students to complete social work courses will ultimately have a knock on impact on the recruitment and retention of social workers into the future. 

John McGowan, General Secretary of SWU and a strong supporter of the students’ campaign, commented: “At a time of a recruitment crisis in the profession, social work employers, the government and society can not afford for this to happen.”

The students leading the campaign, Lucy Challoner and David Grimm were recently presented with the Common Good Award for Activism by Glasgow Caledonian University’s Department of Social Work, which is part of its School of Health and Life Sciences.