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Getting Qualified

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Getting Qualified

There is a wide range of options to obtain the educational qualifications necessary for entry to the BA (Hons) in social work. Immediately following is a list of the most popular options, together with a commentary on what appear to be the common advantages and disadvantages of each. Please note that the university recognises any choice has to be a personal matter and decisions about which programme might be most appropriate will depend on a wide range of personal, family, social and other factors. Ultimately, the university makes its decisions about suitability based on a combination of factors, not least of which is how any individual has responded to the opportunities (s)he has had.

At the end are links to all the colleges of further education in the west, south-west and central part of Scotland as well as links to adult returner courses run by the universities of Strathclyde, Glasgow and the Open University.

Getting Qualified

Scottish Highers, Irish Highers or A levels.

These are often available at Further Education colleges or at secondary schools. We have a definite preference for English at Higher (with an absolute requirement for English at Standard Grade minimum level 2 or Int 2 at minimum level C and a preference for a similar level of achievement in maths or a closely related numerate subject). Two of the Highers should be in either the arts, humanities or social sciences.

Advantages:

  • qualifications are universally recognised as demanding and rigorously assessed,
  • can be studied in a huge variety of venues
  • good preparation for study at Higher Education level.

Disadvantages:

  • may require prior attainment at lower level
  • some feel subject and content may be geared towards younger students 
  • the teaching approach is often relatively traditional and it is examined primarily through examination

Getting Qualified

Approved Access to Higher Education Course

These differ across the UK but their approved standing is often recognised by terms like kite-marked or it is provided by a regional consortium (like SWAP in the West of Scotland). Access courses in humanities, social science, or specifically designed for social work, are clearly acceptable; others may not be.

Advantages:

  • no prior qualifications necessary
  • widely available in a number of FE centers
  • usually closely supported by college tutors
  • paced and taught in a way particularly relevant to older students
  • may attract financial support and childcare is often available
  • subject to particular grade attainments, it is generally accepted by most Higher Education institutions.

Disadvantages:

  • Full-time commitment required
  • qualification has no vocational value
  • no guarantee of progression into a specific course at a university.


University Access Courses Provided by Universities

At the University of Strathclyde this is entitled a pre-entry course to arts & social sciences but other universities use different terms. A minimum of 55% is required. Whatever their title their function is to widen access to university courses to adults who may have missed, or been denied, opportunities at school.

Advantages:

  • usually no prior qualifications or entry requirements apply
  • subjects and content geared to adult interests
  • taught by university staff and rigorously assessed by a wide range of methods, including examination
  • formal study usually confined to 1, occasionally 2, evenings per week
  • minimum cost to students
  • universally recognised for entry to wide range of university degree programmes
  • excellent preparation for study in Higher Education.

Disadvantages:

  • may require mandatory study of unfamiliar subject in arts
  • study support is virtually non-existent
  • effectively requires good study skills, tight discipline and capacity to write fluently from the very outset.


Open University

The first and still highly rated open access institution offering an unparalleled range of accredited courses at all different levels. For students interested in entering a social work course, courses in the School of Health and Welfare are likely to be of most interest and relevance. Please check the Entry with Credit page for further details.

Advantages:

  • no entry requirements for level 1 courses
  • content of study materials and interactive, web-based courses are particularly high quality
  • qualifications widely recognised
  • study support limited but usually focused and effective
  • assessment of work is varied and rigorous.
  • Completion of the Diploma in Health & Welfare at an appropriate grade could provide direct entry to year 2 of the social work course.

Disadvantages:

  • little contact with other students or tutors
  • not much in the way of study support
  • effectively assumes prior skills in study and writing
  • need to be exceptionally disciplined to study effectively
  • costs are fairly high.


HNC/BTec/HND

A huge range of courses is available in Further Education colleges throughout the UK. Some, such as in social science, are targeted towards people interested in continuing study at university, while others, such as social care and child care and education, are mainly vocational, attracting criticism from some quarters about their academic suitability as preparation for study at university level. An HNC in social care, social science and working with communities is always accepted as meeting the educational entry requirements; an HNC in child care and education and supporting learning needs usually so.

Normally, we will accept these qualifications only from applicants who are adult returners to education, i.e. who have been out of school for some years. The exception would be people who have acquired a minimum of 2 Highers at B level (one of which must be English) in year 5 of secondary school and choose to enter further education as an alternative, though this is something we would not encourage. In all cases applicants will need to have achieved a minimum of level A, 70% or distinction in all areas of study.

Advantages:

  • widely available in FE colleges across the UK
  • flexible entry requirements for older students
  • in the case of HNC social care, its content is highly relevant to social work
  • teaching/learning approach pitched at appropriate pace and level for older students
  • good study support
  • in the case of social care courses in Scotland, normally provides relevant and structured placement experience regarded as meeting criteria as experienced applicant at GSSW
  • If HNC in social care is achieved at a consistently high level  verified by tutors  and combined with a record of challenging and responsible relevant employment, may provide direct entry to year 2 of course.
  • HNC in social care provides qualification valued by employers in social care and career and training options in social care as alternative to social work.

Disadvantages:

  • full-time commitment to study
  • some course content may be repeated in social work course
  • completion of current HNC in vocational programmes not widely recognised as entry qualification to degrees outside of social work
  • In the case of HND qualifications, unlikely to receive financial support from student finance bodies for first year of degree course.

 

Getting Qualified

 College Relevant Courses Location
 Ayr College  HNC in Social Care  Ayr and south Ayrshire
 Central College of Commerce, Glasgow HNC in Social Science  Central Glasgow
Clydebank College

HNC:

  • Social Care
  • Social Sciences

Access to Arts & Humanities

West Dumbartonshire
Coatbridge College

HNC:

  • Social Care
  • Counselling

Access to Social Work/Social Sciences 

 
Cumbernauld College 

HNC:

  • Social Care
  • Working with Communities 
 
Forth Valley College

HNC:

  • Social Care
  • Social Science

Access to Higher Education 

3 campuses - Falkirk, Stirling & Alloa
Glasgow College of Nautical Studies HNC in Social Care Central Glasgow 
Glasgow Clyde College

HNC:

  • Social Care
  • Working with Communities,
  •  Social Science
 
James Watt College HNC in Social Care  Greenock and Kilwinning Campuses 
John Wheatley College

HNC in Social Care

Access to Higher Education 

Easterhouse & North East Glasgow 
Kilmarnock College

HNC:

  • Social Care
  • Social Science 

Access to Humanities

North & East Ayrshire
Motherwell College

HNC:

  • Social Care
  • Counselling
  • Social Science 
Motherwell & North Lanarkshire
North Glasgow College HNC in Social Care North Glasgow 
Reid Kerr College

HNC:

  • Social Care
  • Working with Communities 
Renfrew & Paisley 
South Lanarkshire College HNC in Social Care  South East Glasgow & South Lanarkshire 
Stow College HNC in Social Science Central Glasgow 

Getting Qualified

 University Relevant Courses  Location 
 University of Strathclyde Pre-entry course in arts & social sciences  City Centre Camapus, Glasgow 
 University of Glasgow Department of Adult & Continuing Education - access course  Education Faculty, West End, Glasgow 
 Open University Diploma in Health & Social Care  Online Course