Skip to main content

20 Mar 2020

Your learning Professional standards

Social work student placements and bursaries

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has created uncertainty for social work students so we’ve agreed contingency plans with the Heads of Social Work Programmes in Scotland to help mitigate the impact on them.


As universities move to online teaching and suspend their student placements, the SSSC Council has endorsed the proposal that all social work student practice placements are suspended or deferred to a later date from close of business on Friday 20 March 2020.

Students undertaking employer-based routes of study who are on placements within their own organisation should take advice from their employers.

We recognise the significant impact this will have and are working hard to mitigate risks to individuals and organisations. We are working closely with the heads of social work group and other partners to agree contingency plans. In partnership with employers and universities we will finalise more flexible ways for students to evidence they have met the Standards in Social Work Education (SiSWE) to prevent, where possible, delays in final students being able to qualify.


To support these approaches and allow students to evidence how they have met the SiSWE in a different way we will provide greater flexibility in the:

  • time required to demonstrate competency
  • methods for collecting evidence of meeting the standards.

This includes exercising discretion in relation to the requirement that all social work students spend at least 200 days in practice learning, of which at least 160 must be spent in supervised direct practice in service delivery settings.

As a result of the disruption to placements it’s likely there will be a number of students who will need to either make up additional hours on future placements or, for final year students, they may need to extend their programme of study to complete a further practice placement.

Funding support

We’ve contacted SAAS to let them know about the potential impact on undergraduate students. The SAAS policy team are currently considering what financial support they can offer to undergraduate students, including those currently in receipt of the part time fee grant.

We administer postgraduate social work bursaries and will continue to make payments to those students assessed as eligible who are due to be on placement to ensure no financial hardship is experienced as a result of the suspension.

We will also use our discretion within the exiting provisions to provide further payments, in exceptional circumstances to support eligible students who have their programmes extended and are working with Scottish Government to make changes to allow us to support self-funding students who are experiencing financial hardship because of an extension to their programme of study.

We will continue to pay practice learning fees to agencies in line with our current procedures and will be as flexible as possible where placements have been suspended.

More information

We are in discussions with providers for all programmes we are responsible for, including those delivering the Childhood Practice Award and Mental Health Officer Award.

Students should contact their universities for more information.

Programme providers should contact their SSSC link adviser for further information.

Contact information

Lorraine Wakefield
Communications Manager
Scottish Social Services Council