"There is competition": Facing the reality of field education in New Zealand
Keywords:social work field education, quality, New Zealand, placements, competition
INTRODUCTION: Anecdotal evidence of increasing competition for field education placements has raised concerns about the availability of quality learning opportunities for students and so it was considered timely to examine stakeholder perspectives.
METHOD: In late 2014, 15 tertiary educators from 11 tertiary institutions and 31 social work students from three Aotearoa New Zealand tertiary institutions engaged with the researcher in individual or focus group interviews on aspects of quality field education.
FINDINGS: Overall, the tertiary educators revealed considerable pressure on them to secure quality student placements due to competition with other tertiary providers, limited placement opportunities in some locations, high workloads and inadequate funding. Students recognised these pressures but questioned whether the educators are adequately supported by the tertiary institution. Placement availability was also affected by organisations experiencing funding pressures, placement fatigue, limited space and physical resources, and high workloads.
CONCLUSIONS: These qualitative findings raise questions for all the key stakeholders in field education: tertiary institutions, educators, social service organisations, the professional associations, the regulatory body and students. The findings from this study signal the need for a comprehensive, sector-wide examination of the social work field education context in Aotearoa New Zealand.
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