In 2017 we can expect around 1,200 graduates from qualifying masters programs, and 1,700 from bachelors programs.
Which universities are doing the heavy lifting? Actual figures from 2014 indicated that five universities had enrolments of more than 500 students. These were the University of South Australia with 778, Charles Sturt with 676, Western Sydney University with 550, Latrobe with 546, and Deakin with 528.
The AASW keeps its student membership numbers secret (why?). Nevertheless, I can be confident in guessing that AASW student membership is a tiny proportion of 14,500.
When I talk with students about this, a few themes emerge,
- Many students are in abject poverty and the membership fee is beyond their means
- some students see the AASW requirements around recognition of prior learning, and placement hours and attendance as punitive and irrational
- Exposure to AASW marketing is on campus is patchy or limited
I would add to this by saying that in my estimate, only around 50% of social work academics are members of the AASW.
Boosting student membership is an issue of real urgency. The future health of the social work profession is in the hands of the next generation.
We must have,
- a $10 membership for students
- free mentoring for students and new graduates
- a memorandum of understanding between Heads of Schools of Social Work and the AASW that guarantees regular access to students for marketing purposes
- a placement regime that strikes a sensible balance between outcomes and hours
- an AASW student club on every campus
- a national student advisory body