Social work academics have gathered in Milan as part of an ongoing research project involving four countries across Europe.
The research group involving a team from the University of Cumbria is exploring how prepared social work students are for placements and their future careers.
University of Cumbria principal lecturer Jim Greer and senior lecturers Matthew Smith and Kirsteen Laidlaw conducted a research workshop at UNICATT, Milan, which is the largest private university in Europe.
Academic peers from Nord University, Norway, and University College Cork, Ireland joined colleagues from Cumbria and Milan at the summit that also featured preparations for the European Social Work Research Conference taking place in Leuven, Belgium next month.
Representatives from the four universities will jointly deliver a 90-minute symposium about their “Students’ Preparedness for Placement and Practice” study at the international conference, which is taking place from 10-12 April.
The academics also plan to enhance learning experiences for students across the four universities in the future, seeking to develop a programme of social work placements and student exchanges across the continent.
Funding is now being sought by academics in Nord, Norway to enable the research to continue through to mid-2020 as they collaboratively explore how to improve opportunities for trainee social workers at their four universities and potentially beyond.
Kirsteen Laidlaw said “It is vitally important at this time of uncertainty that we consolidate the collaboration we have with our European colleagues. We want to ensure that Social Work Education is strengthened by having pan European relationships and shared research. This is important for current and future students and practitioners.”
Professor Diane Cox, director of research and head of graduate school at the University of Cumbria, said: “This project is a further example of how research carried out by the University of Cumbria is grounded in the real world. Our work has an emphasis on our students and collaborative applied research within practice.”
The University of Cumbria’s Fusehill Street campus in Carlisle will host its third annual social work conference on Friday 17 May 2019. Speakers will include the University’s first social work Professor of Practice Dr Andrew Turnell and Iona Colvin, chief social work advisor to the Scottish Government. Places can be booked online here.