How do black students experience social work programmes and how do lecturers understand black students’ experiences?
Existing research has identified black students’ experiences of hostility, discrimination and poorer outcomes however few studies to date have focused on everyday racial distinctions operating in social work education (Jeyasingham & Morton, 2019). The current project is an investigation of black students’ experiences on social work programmes in the UK and in Norway. The first phase of analysis on findings from the UK is complete and being written up for publication. For this phase, we interviewed lecturers (n = 8) and black students (n= 19) on social work programmes at two universities in England. We identified three themes
- Racial categories and logics
- Normalised marginalisation
- Judgements and being judged
High value was placed on racial equality in SWE but those involved in teaching present culture as matter of absolute difference. An association of culture with identity, beliefs and values is one of the ways in which black students are distinguished as different. Black students are simultaneously appreciated for difference but expected to perform in the same ways as white students with a lack of specificity about what is expected in foundational elements of SWE- written work, placement, and reflection. Everyday experiences of marginalisation and hostility are largely invisible to lecturers but when made apparent, are viewed as shocking and exceptional rather than arising from everyday interactions/encounters.
Our recommendations are that there is a need for reflexive consideration of practices in social work education and further research is needed on practice situations and fitness to practice referrals and outcomes.
The next phase of our research will look at Norwegian students’ experiences
Research Team: Julie Morton PI (University of Salford), Dharman Jeyasingham (University of Manchester), Jorunn Vindigg and Siri Fjeldheim (OsloMet)
Funding bodies: British Association of Social Work’s International Development Fund and the Norwegian Union of Social Educators