Added value of an international perspective to social work students

We struggle with how to encourage our students to take the possibility to go abroad and get international experience about how social work is conducted in other countries. We need to gain more knowledge on advantages and disadvantages for the profession when it comes to Social Work students going broad.

Objective

In 2015 we started a small-scale research on the experiences of social work students who went abroad during their studies. We have conducted 12 focus-group interviews in each network member country. Each focus-group consisted of a:

  • manager from a social work organization
  • young professional social worker
  • social work student, who recently has been abroad

In form of problem centered guided interviews we asked about the following topics:

  • Social Work knowledge, skills and competences
  • Personal skills and competences
  • Disadvantages
  • Encouraging future students

 

"Experience abroad … is like a bonus in soft skills."

Manager social work organisation
Berlin, Germany

Results

So far we have conducted 12 focus-group interviews in each network member country. We have presented the outcomes at the SWSD conference in Dublin (2018) and the EASSW conference in Madrid (2019). Soon we will start to invite former social work students from our universities to fill in our questionnaire. We have the ambition to analyse the data and to publish about the outcomes.

Duration

01 January 2015 - 01 January 2021

Approach

2015: Plan of Action and focusgroup interviews at VIA University College, Denmark

2016: Focus-group interviews at School of social work at Lund University in Sweden and HU-University of Applied Sciences Utrecht.

2017: Focus-group interviews at ASH-Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences Berlin, Germany and School of Social Work at Linneaus Unvirsity, Sweden.

2018: Analysis interviews and presenting the first outcomes at the SWSD2018 conference in Dublin.

2019: Preparation of the questionnaire and presenting the first outcomes at the EASSW conference in Madrid and pilot of the questionnaire.

2020: Inviting the former social work students who have been abroad to fill in the questionnaire.

2021: Analysis questionnaire and hopefully publishing about the outcomes.

"People with international experiences have as a rule, and don’t hold it against me, are more able to find solutions and more willing to think outside of the box"

Social worker
Utrecht, the Netherlands

Share your international experiences with us!

Are you a (former) HU-Social Work student who had been abroad during your studies? Please contact our research team, if you are interested to share your international experiences with us.

HU researchers involved in the research

  • Nico de Vos | Professor | Participation and Urban Development
    Nico de Vos
    • Professor
    • Research groups: Participation and Urban Development
  • Jolanda Berends | Researcher | Participation and Urban Development
    Jolanda Berends
    • Researcher
    • Research groups: Participation and Urban Development

Collaboration with knowledge partners

We are four long-term partner institutions in three European countries with a tradition of educational collaboration, student exchange and co-curriculum development: School of social work at Lund University and Linnaeus University in Sweden and ASH-Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences Berlin, Germany.

Unfortunately, VIA University College, Denmark left the network in June 2018.

Would you like to collaborate or do you have any questions? 

Jolanda Berends | Researcher | Participation and Urban Development

Jolanda Berends

  • Researcher
  • Research group: Participation and Urban Development