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Social work bursaries to be debated in Holyrood

STUDENT social workers in Scotland will have their petition for better support considered by MSPs this month.

Thousands signed the appeal on the Scottish Parliament website after more than 300 students wrote to officials and ministers of the Scottish government.

They are calling for the Scottish government to make funding available to provide bursaries to all third and fourth year undergraduate social work students in Scotland.

Glasgow Caledonian University student David Grimm said: “We are not asking for special treatment, but students work just as hard as their colleagues on nursing, midwifery and paramedic courses. 

“And social work students have real-life caseloads during their courses, actively contributing to the safeguarding of the most vulnerable in society, but do not have bursaries which other students can access.

“This means they take second jobs, rely on foodbanks and struggle in poverty while also working on the front line.”

Social work students point out that nursing, midwifery and paramedic students receive a bursary of £37,500, which is non-repayable.

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.

Lucy Challoner, another leader of the campaign, said: “We’re not asking for anything other than equality with other students who undertake front-line work in public services during their courses.”

Social Workers Union general secretary John McGowan added: “We find it slightly surprising that we should have to point out the obvious — that a loan is not the same as a bursary.”

The petition will be debated by MSPs on March 22.

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