Student bursary campaign event on January 16th: “Can bursaries for social work students be made fairer?”

Social Workers Union (SWU) Campaign Fund | BASW England

Social work students and lecturers in England are invited to an open event to discuss proposals for a fairer bursaries system.

The “Can bursaries for social work students be made fairer?” online event is free to attend and will be hosted on Google Meets on Tuesday, 16th January 2024 from 6:30pm to 7:30pm.

The proposals for a fairer social work bursary system have been developed by the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) England and the Social Workers Union (SWU) following snubs from both Conservative and Labour front benches to engage in discussion on reform for social work bursaries. The recommended reforms would replace the current complex and fragmented system with a simplified and universal bursary system to ensure equitable access to financial support for all social work students in England.

After hearing about the new proposals, there will also be a chance to hear about the campaign to reform bursaries and how you can get involved. Taking part in campaigns while you’re a student demonstrates your commitment to social work and will give you a chance to develop communications and advocacy skills which will help you in your future career.

BASW England states:

“The current bursaries system hinders access, creates disparities in support and is overly bureaucratic. These plans advocate for a simplified and universal bursary system which could be paid for mostly using existing budgets.

“We have argued for a universal bursary for all social work students in England alongside payment of tuition fees in full that mirrors the current system for medical students. To further simplify the system we need to see a user-friendly application process for the universal bursary and tuition fee support, minimising administrative burdens on universities and students.”

A previous “open letter” to the UK Secretaries of State for Health and Education set out arguments for an end to the unique nature of hardships social work students face. Ministers replied expressing sympathy with the important role social work students play, but failing to agree to look at options for bursary reform. 

Three letters to Labour front bench spokespeople including Wes Streeting and Andrew Gwynne have gone unanswered by the party.

John McGowan, General Secretary of the Social Workers Union, commented:

“Given the vital role that social work students play and the increasing social work recruitment crisis, you would have thought that politicians would be keen to work with us to develop proposals to reform the bursaries programme. 

“We are disappointed that none were prepared to meet with students.

“These proposals are a positive step forward and, if students agree, we will provide them with assistance to campaign for reform of student bursaries through the SWU Campaign Fund.”

Book your free place here: