Restart your social work courses, varsities urged

Local | Sophie Hui 7 May 2018

Social workers have slammed City University and Polytechnic University for halting part-time social work degree courses, reducing the number of places from 180 to 60.

This may affect the government's plan to deploy more social workers to schools under the "one school social worker for each school" pilot scheme, they claimed.

A concern group collected 617 signatures in a bid to convince the two universities to resume the courses.

The group accused City University of lying as the Social Workers Registration Board and Education Bureau did not stop the university from offering the course. Instead, the university actually chose to discontinue the course.

It urged the universities to bear the responsibility of education and restart the courses.

Mok Hing-luen, a former senior lecturer at the Community College of City University's Division of Social Sciences, said there are about 600 graduates with social work higher diplomas and associate degrees every year. He said the demand far exceeds the supply as there are only 60 places in part-time social work degree courses.

"After they finish their higher diplomas or associate degrees, if they don't have the opportunity to further their education, they will face being bottlenecked or end up at a dead end," Mok said. "They can't be promoted as social workers need further education in order to get promoted."

He said many positions, such as social work officers at the Social Welfare Department or at schools, require bachelor degree qualifications.

The founding director of human rights group Hong Kong Unison, Fermi Wong Wai-fun said she enrolled in the part-time social work degree course at City University in 1999.

"I pursued further education as many people told me if I don't have a social work degree, I will not be considered as a complete social worker," she said.

Fung Wai-wah, president of the Professional Teachers' Union, said there is demand for part-time courses, but the universities choose to turn a blind eye to the issue.

He also said as universities aim to climb up the rankings, they only focus on research and pay little attention to the quality of teaching. As a result, practical courses like social work have been adversely affected.

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