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Developing capacity

Literature review to inform the review of the social work bursary


To review published literature on the impact of the social work bursary in England, to help inform the Department of Health review of the bursary scheme.



Research team

Jo Moriarty and Jill Manthorpe (SCWRU)


Department of Health, Policy Research Programme


The review had two parts: 1) searches of electronic bibliographic databases and grey literature in order to identify information about the social work bursary, which was introduced as part of the new social work degree in England in order to attract more applicants into social work; other relevant literature on financial incentives for students in higher education; and collecting information on how social work education is funded internationally and 2) secondary analysis of data collected as part of the Evaluation of the Social Work degree and for the GSCC progression project.


The review found very little published empirical data on the impact of the bursary but there was some evidence that the diversity of social work students had increased and that some people had been able to study social work who would otherwise have been unable to do so. It concluded that more work was needed on evaluating different forms of funding arrangements for student support, in order to provide better evidence on social work supply and demand.


A report from the study was produced for the Department of Health. An article has been submitted to a refereed journal.

Follow-up work was commissioned from the Unit was commissioned in 2017.


Moriarty, J., Manthorpe, J., Hussein, S., Stevens, M., Sharpe, E., MacIntyre, G., Orme, J., Green Lister, P. & Crisp, B.R. (2012) 'The social work bursary in England: impact of funding arrangements upon social work education and the future workforce', British Journal of Social Work, 42(5): 957-973. 


The review has been used in preparing the Department of Health consultation document on the review of the social work bursary. See news item 21 May 2012.
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