Posted Tuesday 26 February 2019
Experts from Kingston University and St George's, University of London have joined forces with health educators in Gibraltar to launch the British Overseas Territory's first social work degree.
The three-year bachelor's programme, which has now accepted its first students, will see academics from the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, run jointly by Kingston and St George's, fly out to Gibraltar's School of Health Studies at St Bernard's Hospital to impart their knowledge.
Curriculum development got under way after an approach from Gibraltar's Minister of Health, Care and Justice, Neil Costa. He was keen to explore the possibility of replicating the Faculty's programme, which received 100 per cent student satisfaction in last year's National Student Survey, and tailoring it to meet the high need for social workers on the Rock.
The course is being run in conjunction with the Care Agency, the government body providing social services in Gibraltar, and continues the Faculty's strong links with the British Overseas Territory where it has delivered a nursing degree for several years. The universities are also helping fund books and other learning materials for the medical library at St Bernard's Hospital, which all students and staff can access.
Graduating students will be eligible to register with the Health and Care Professionals Council and apply to work as qualified social workers. As part of the agreement, Gibraltarian graduates will be able to practice social work in the United Kingdom as well as in their own country.
"Our flourishing partnership with Gibraltar has meant we have been able to develop a programme that suits its specific social work needs, providing access to the expertise of our highly experienced lecturers in a fast-paced learning environment," Head of the Faculty's Department of Social Work and Social Care, Dr Wilson Muleya, said.
Most of the first cohort is made up of mature students, with the programme allowing them to complete their course work while juggling other commitments. Their learning is complemented by placement opportunities provided through the Care Agency, giving them the on-the-job training also needed before they launch their careers.
Acting chief executive officer of the Care Agency Natalie Tavares said the partnership with Kingston and St George's provided students with enhanced access to higher education. "Having this programme delivered locally is a fantastic opportunity for anyone who was interested in becoming a social worker but was unable to leave Gibraltar due to personal commitments.
"The students are now able to work towards the qualifications needed to launch their careers while still maintaining their home lives, when previously they would have had to move to the United Kingdom to complete a degree," she added. "Working with Kingston University to develop this programme has been a positive and fruitful exercise which I am confident will enrich the lives of the students and benefit those who receive social services in Gibraltar."