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The role of the academy in social work education

Authored by: Martin Webber , Ian Shaw , Simon Cauvain , Mark Hardy , Mirja Satka , Aino Kääriäinen , Laura Yliruka

Routledge International Handbook of Social Work Education

Print publication date:  April  2016
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138890237
eBook ISBN: 9781315712536
Adobe ISBN: 9781317495239


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Social work education in Europe operates within diverse historical, political and professional contexts. In many European countries, such as in Germany, aspiring social work students complete their professional training in a more varied, but perhaps a less integrated, fashion than in the UK, where it is highly regulated. By contrast, in Denmark, while all education programmes must be accepted by the Ministry of Education through an accreditation process, the day-to-day work within the university is not controlled by any local, regional or national system. In the Baltic States, the shifts and changes in social work training have been inextricably tied to the practice within social pedagogy. This also shapes priorities in the research agenda, such that, in countries like Denmark, research and scholarship in the social work field are referenced against different institutional and policy contexts compared with Finland and the UK. In Spain there is no official regulation system for social work education, beside the general guidelines for university degrees. Only regulated professions in Spain have special guidelines for their education, and social work is not a regulated profession. Some European countries have a very small number of social work programmes, while others have programmes that are located outside the university sector, such as in France, where vocational fields like social work have lower academic status. Further, several countries in Eastern Europe can look back to a period prior to the rise of communist governments where social work programmes had begun to emerge but were then closed or became atrophied and desiccated for half a century.

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