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Rise in social work undergraduates in Scotland

New figures show a marked upturn in students joining social work degree courses in Scotland, according to the Scottish Social Services Council.

Early indications suggest an 8% increase in admissions in 2009/10 compared with the previous year, bringing this year’s total intake up to 700 students.

A rising trend of admissions appears to have been accompanied by increasing numbers of younger applicants to social work degrees.

Following a decision to lift the age barrier which prevented school leavers from applying, the proportion of applicants in the 16-24 age group swelled from 31% in 2006/7 to 41% in 2008/9. Numbers of disabled applicants are also increasing, the SSSC says.

“It is encouraging to see more people choosing social work as a career,” says Anna Fowlie, SSSC chief executive. “We have a commitment to widening the participation of people in social work amongst under-represented groups so that the workforce more accurately reflects the diversity of our communities.”

Recent research by the SSSC and the Association of Directors of Social Work showed that public perceptions of social work were improving. It found that 47% of respondents viewed social work positively, compared with 38% the previous year.