Challenges facing Australian social work education

Karger, Howard (2011). Challenges facing Australian social work education. In: AASWWE Symposium, Southport, Gold Coast, Australia, (). 29-30 September 2011.

Author Karger, Howard
Title of paper Challenges facing Australian social work education
Conference name AASWWE Symposium
Conference location Southport, Gold Coast, Australia
Conference dates 29-30 September 2011
Publication Year 2011
Sub-type Oral presentation
Language eng
Abstract/Summary US social work education is in a precarious state (see Stoesz, Karger & Carillo, A Dream Deferred: How Social Work Education Lost its Way and What can be Done, Transaction/Aldine, 2010). Similarly, Australia appears to be headed down the same dangerous path. Using data, this paper will critically examine the similar trends in social work education occurring both in the US and Australia. Much of social work's problems can be attributed to several factors, including (1) the widespread accreditation of inadequately resourced social work programs; (2) the weak scholarship, research and dearth of publications of many social work academics; and (3) an anti-empirical orientation that produces research using less than rigorous methods. Equally troubling is the growth of accredited social work programs in numbers that far exceed demand. The effects of this on the profession are profound, including an intense competition for a limited pool of students resulting in the enrolment of students with extremely low entry scores – in some cases the lowest in the university. The over-expansion of social work programs has created an "educational bubble," not unlike the housing bubble in many Western nations that preceded the GFC. This bubble is reflected in the inability to generate sufficient academic staff to teach in accredited programs, thereby lowering the bar for employment. As with any oversupply, this trend is likely to result in slow wage growth and deteriorating post-graduation job prospects as more qualified social workers compete for a limited number of positions. Undoubtedly, this analysis will be disputed by some social work academics. However, dissension and debate are critical if a profession or a discipline is to grow.
Q-Index Code EX
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

 
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Created: Tue, 13 Mar 2012, 19:30:04 EST by Professor Howard Karger on behalf of School of Social Work and Human Services