Selecting social work students: Lessons from research in Scotland

Viviene Cree*, Fiona Morrison, Gary Clapton, Susan Levy, Richard M Ingram

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The issue of selection of students to social work programmes is one that remains highly contested. Whilst it is clear that there is no single way of choosing the next generation of social work students, nevertheless, there are a number of strongly-held beliefs about what ‘best practice’ means in this fraught field. These can be difficult to challenge, and even harder to shift, in spite of contrary evidence. This paper presents research conducted in Scotland in 2016 as part of the Scottish Government-sponsored Review of Social Work Education. The research set out to consider what selection processes were being used in Scotland and why; more fundamentally, it sought to explore the views of those involved in social work education alongside evidence about the outcomes of the selection processes (that is, data on student retention and success). The article concludes that while there is little evidence that one method of selection to social work programmes is intrinsically better than another, issues of fairness and transparency in selection, as well as diversity, remain pressing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)490-506
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Work Education
Issue number4
Early online date2 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • selection to social work programmes
  • social work profession
  • research
  • Scotland
  • international


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