This page contains information on UK wide organisations that inform policy and regulation in social policy and social work in higher education, grouped into four areas.

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UK-wide higher education organisations

The Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) promotes equality and addresses issues of diversity for students and staff, working across the UK and in partnership with Equality Forward in Scotland. It is supported by the HE Funding Councils and Universities UK.

The Higher Education Academy aims to help institutions, discipline groups and all staff to provide the best possible learning experience for students by:

  • Informing policy
  • Supporting institutions
  • Research and evaluation
  • Supporting learning
  • Development and recognition of the professional status of staff
  • Subject-specific support to academics and disciplines (e.g. through subject centres)

The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) is the official agency for the collection, analysis and dissemination of quantitative information about higher education.

The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) is an independent body funded by subscriptions from UK higher education institutions, and through contracts with the HE funding bodies. It aims to safeguard standards of HE qualifications and encourage continuous quality improvement in higher education. Key areas include

The QAA also undertakes specific work in relation to healthcare education and licenses access validating agencies to recognise Access to HE programmes.

Universities UK (UUK) is a membership body of higher education institutions. It works to influence policy, co-ordinate sector agencies, provide services for members, enhance operational efficiency and effectiveness. This includes:

UUK has three national committees: Universities Scotland, Higher Education Wales and the England and Northern Ireland Council

The National Union of Students (NUS) is a voluntary membership organisation comprising a confederation of local student representative organisations in affiliated colleges and universities throughout the UK and Northern Ireland. They represent the interests of over 7 million students, providing research, representation, training and expert advice for individual students and students' unions. It has officers and committees at UK level and for each jurisdiction.

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UK Sector Skills Councils

Skills for Care and Development is the Sector Skills Council for social care, children and young people’s workforces in the UK. It is an alliance of five organisations: the Care Council for Wales, the Northern Ireland Social Care Council, the Scottish Social Services Council, and for England the Children’s Workforce Development Council, and Skills for Care . Skills for Care and Development (SfC&D) is licensed by government to represent the interests of some 60,000 employers and 1.6 million workers across the UK (2007 figures), of which social workers are a small group.

UK-wide social policy organisations and regulation

The Quality Assurance Agency Subject Benchmark Statement sets out what can be expected of a graduate in terms of the abilities and skills needed to develop understanding or competence in the subject. The BMS for Social Policy (PDF, 61KB) was revised in 2007.

The Joint University Council Social Policy Committee (JUC-SPC) is the representative body of the higher education departments in this subject field.

The Social Policy Association (SPA) is a professional association open for membership to academics and practitioners working in social policy, and to others with an interest in UK and international social policy.

Both bodies have Learning and Teaching Committees, which often collaborate and work with SWAP to enhance the profile and quality of social policy teaching.

The SPA hosts a Postgraduate Network page dedicated to postgraduate researchers.

Some current areas of debate include:

  • Employability
  • Recruitment to Social Policy degree programmes
  • Service teaching on other programmes
  • Linking teaching and research

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UK regulation of social work education

The rules and regulations for social work education have been set in each of the four jurisdictions of the UK by the respective government bodies working with the Care Councils, in consultation with other stakeholders. This means that there are variations across England, Scotland, N.Ireland and Wales.

The professional qualification for social work is now at degree level. Across the UK the requirements draw on the following:

A table providing an overview of the varied requirements across the UK has been drawn up by SWAP in conjunction with the four Care Councils.

New frameworks for post qualifying training and education and its links to Post-registration Training and learning (PRTL) have been introduced and vary across the UK. A table providing an overview of the requirements across the UK has been drawn up by the four Care Councils

Useful higher education statistics

See SWAP's newsletter issue No. 12 Autumn 2006 (PDF, 525KB) for the article on page 5 on 'The National Student Satisfaction Survey - how representative is it'. A blog has been set up featuring a HEA comparative analysis of the 2010 National Student Satisfaction Survey results for Social Policy, Social Work and a 'SWAP combined' category in relation to four other social science disciplines (Economics, Politics, Sociology, Anthropology)

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External links

The Higher Education Academy National Student Survey page

Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)

HEFCE's National Student Survey page

Higher education in further education colleges in England information bulletin 2006-07

Universities and Colleges Admissions System (UCAS) statistical services

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