Personal Suitability for the Social Work Profession
The School of Social Work recognizes our responsibility to the social work profession to uphold standards of academic and professional excellence and to operate within the standards and policies of the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE). We acknowledge our obligation to the social work profession to make reasonable efforts to ensure that graduates of our program are suitable for the demands of practice. The following personal suitability policy will apply equally to all Foundational and Advanced track MSW students in assessing their fit with the profession. In exceptional circumstances, a committee formed and chaired by the Director and comprised of a minimum of 3 Faculty members, may decide to pre-empt some of the review stages outlined below. In keeping with the University of British Columbia policy and the Mission Statement of the School of Social Work, all students are expected to be treated equally and fairly. This applies to any review of problems associated with the student’s conduct or competence. Faculty, staff, agency personnel and students are expected to respect human rights laws and policies.
The purposed of this policy is to identify behaviours or issues that may result in the need for a review of a student’s personal suitability for the social work field and to provide a set of procedures to be followed when a review is conducted.
Potential issues that occur within the study body, classroom, university, field agency or community that may trigger a personal suitability review include, but are not limited to:
- Inappropriate disruptive, harassing, discriminatory, or unethical behaviour(s)
- Conflict(s) of interest
- Excessive absences or tardiness
- Any academic or non-academic misconduct
- Non-compliance with School, University or agency policy
- Competency or skills deficits
- Impairment in functioning or professional effectiveness due to personal problems, substance misuse, mental health or cognitive difficulties, or psychosocial distress
In addition, social work students convicted of, or admitting to, serious illegal activities that are inconsistent with the practice of social work or likely to harm clients (such as assault, sexual assault, fraud, or trafficking in narcotics) will be subject to the procedure set out in this policy.
Social Work students should also note that the laying of criminal charges, the commencement of civil proceedings, or the commencement of student disciplinary proceedings does not preclude the University from initiating the procedure set out in this policy.
Should there become concerns regarding student’s suitability for the social work profession; the following process will be undertaken:
Concerns and issues can be identified by faculty, staff, Field Instructors or students and are brought to the attention of the student by his/her Faculty Advisor. All difficulties should be verbally (and in writing) identified to the student and an Action Plan for addressing these developed. All parties have a responsibility to identify issues when they become evident and the Faculty Advisor has the authority to mediate this process on behalf of the School of Social Work.
If the difficulties identified in Stage 1 are not adequately resolved, the Faculty Advisor will set a Stage 2 Formal Review meeting with the student, the Director and any other involved individuals as deemed required (i.e. the Field Education Coordinator, Course Instructor, Field Liaison and/or Instructor, etc.). The identity of any support person for the student must be conveyed to the Director at least 2 days prior to the meeting or he/she may not be permitted to be present.
At least 48 hours prior to the meeting, the coordinating Faculty Advisor will submit a detailed report of the concerns regarding the student, including his/her assessment of the student’s performance (or concerns) in the program. This report will be sent to the student, the Director, and all other members scheduled to attend the review. It is the student’s responsibility to provide evidence of the implementation of the Action Plan developed in stage one. Evidence can include written reports, audio or video tapes of mock clinical interviews, time sheets, process recordings, reflection papers and statements from professional social workers, other students or faculty who have observed the student in a practice setting or in the classrooms. Stage 2 meetings will be led by the Director and the agenda will be as follows:
1. Review of current concerns about the student’s suitability for social work practice, including the nature of the specific feedback that has been provided to the student in Stage 1.
2. Specification of the goals and tasks outlined in the Stage 1 Action Plan and identification of ways in which the plan has not resolved concerns, as well as identification of any other concerns that may have emerged,
3. Statement of additional actions required (including additional written assignments or practicum hours) to be completed, and expected behavioral changes, along with the time frame and schedule for the faculty member to review progress,
4. Statement of any additional actions to be taken by the School or student.
The outcome from the Stage 2 meeting will be documented and forwarded to all participants, including the student, within one week.
Should the concerns not be adequately resolved at a Stage 2 Review, or if additional difficulties emerge, another meeting will be convened in order to conduct a Stage 3 Review. At Stage 3, the Director notifies student in writing that she/he is at risk of being terminated from the program as a result of the serious nature of the continued concerns, and a meeting is scheduled.
A designated professional from the community will be required to attend this meeting. The student may also invite one individual as a support person to accompany him or her to this meeting. The identity of the support person must be conveyed to the Director at least 2 days prior to the meeting or he/she may not be permitted to be present. Stage 3 meetings will be led by the Director. The agenda for a Stage 3 meeting is:
1. Assess the degree to which the student has not met the expectations outlined in Stage 2,
2. Discuss any other relevant or extraordinary issues that should be taken into consideration for this review,
3. Make a decision regarding the personal suitability of the student. The Director will determine whether or not additional time frames, actions, or plans will be made to try and allow the student to demonstrate an acceptable level of competency, performance or conduct. However, the typical outcome at this point is to make a determination about whether or not the student is suitable for the profession and whether or not to terminate him/her from the program. In the case of a decision to terminate the student, the Director will require the student to permanently withdraw from his/her program of study.
4. A formal letter from the Director will be forwarded to the student within one week.
This process, including the outcome, will be clearly documented and a copy of all notes and letters will be kept in the School’s student file.
Note: During the review meeting the Director, prior to communicating the final decision to the student, may ask the student and his/her support person to leave the room to allow for an in-camera dialogue. In addition, the Director may reserve finalizing a decision in order to seek further consultation.
A student has the right to appeal any decision made under this policy. A written request to appeal must be submitted to the Dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Development within 30 days of the date of the formal letter. Should a student not be satisfied with the decision of the Dean, an appeal may be made to the Senate Committee on Appeals of Standing and Discipline.