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What difference a degree makes

Macintyre, Gillian and Orme, Joan (2011) What difference a degree makes. In: Early Professional Development for Social Workers. Venture Press, pp. 10-29.

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After many years of debate in the UK about the need for a degree-level qualification in social work, the arguments for a minimum degree-level qualification were accepted. The requirements for the degree in England were developed drawing on work from a number of sources, including a benchmark statement for undergraduate degrees in social work and focus groups with stakeholders. The new degree in England, launched in 2003, involves one extra year's study; improvements in the qualifying standard for social work; and specific curriculum and entrance requirements. At the time of launching the degree, the government department responsible for funding (Department of Health) commissioned a three-year evaluation of the implementation of the new degree to establish whether the new qualifying level leads to improvements in the qualified workforce. The aim of the evaluation is to describe the experiences of those undertaking the degree, collect the views of the various stakeholders about the effectiveness of the degree and measure the impact of a degree-level qualification on those entering the workforce. This article, written by the team undertaking the evaluation of the England degree, explores the reasons for the methodological approach adopted and the issues that have arisen in setting up the research.