29/07/2003

Social work training to get new funding scheme

Health Minister, Angela Smith has announced a new funding scheme for students planning to study social work in Northern Ireland from September 2004 onwards.

Commenting on the scheme, the Minister said it marked a dramatic milestone in the process of reforming professional social work training.

She added: “It has been identified that the social work workforce requires at least 300 newly qualified social workers annually to meet the needs of Northern Ireland. This scheme is designed to attract a wide spectrum of applicants, by making the social work degree more accessible to all. Thereby, we will hope to ensure that the social work workforce reflects the community as a whole."

Among the benefits for undertaking the new Honours Degree in Social Work, students can expect:
  • Non-means-tested bursaries of at least £2,500 in each year of the course
  • An additional element will be payable for mature students (25 years old and over)
  • £500 towards travel expenses incurred during work based learning
  • Tuition fees paid.
  • Continued access to normal student support through local education authority funding and student loans.
Dr Jeremy Harbison, Chair of the Northern Ireland Social Care Council, which regulates standards in social work education, training and practice, added: “The announcement of this student support scheme is a tremendous boost for the social work profession in Northern Ireland.

"Social workers fulfil a demanding role, providing essential help and support to some of the most vulnerable people in our society. This scheme will help us to attract the best possible social work students to meet the needs of users of services and their carers.”

(MB)

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