BSc (Hons) Social Work 2017
Prior to coming to the University, I was in a college in Singapore majoring in science courses. My decision to pursue a social work course instead arose when I was volunteering actively to provide free tuition to under-privileged children. Through my volunteering experience, I came to find out that social work existed as a profession and had the privilege to meet numerous social workers who inspired me with their involvement with the children and their families.
I chose to study social work abroad as I was awarded an overseas scholarship by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) in Singapore. I chose to study in Edinburgh University due to her international prestige and ranking as one of the best universities in the UK.
One thing I loved about studying in the University of Edinburgh is the emphasis on independent study which provides much allowance to pursue other areas of interest. For example, I was able to read a diversity of courses such as International Aid, Development and Humanitarianism, Fundamentals to Innovation Driven Enterprise and Mathematics for Social Science, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was also able to participate actively in societies such as the Edinburgh University Singapore Society which I later served as the society’s President for 2014/15. The concept of independent study was daunting at first but the strong academic support and approachability of my personal tutor and lecturers allowed me to make the best use of my time in University. This allowed me to gain a holistic and well-rounded experience in the University.
As I graduated from the University this year, I am about to return to Singapore to work in a Voluntary Welfare Organisation (VWO) under NCSS. During my course of study in the University, I undertook two social work placements. This includes a third sector children and family organisation and a statutory acute setting working with older people. These two vastly different placements have broadened my perspectives. I have come to realise the transferable skills of social work and am better able to appreciate the role of social work across different service user groups and setting. Instead of having a specific clientele group that I would like to work in, I am open to the many options that my social work degree qualification presents. In addition to organisational culture and robust supervision, it is perhaps most important to me that I am able to identify the value and relevance of social work in the field that I would be working in.
Looking ahead, I feel that social work has come a long way in gaining international recognition as a profession. Much good work have been done and the progression of social work is encouraging. Given the changing and more complex social landscape that social workers increasingly find themselves in, social work education need to be even more forward looking and consider the larger roles that social workers play. The importance of social work education cannot be underestimated as social workers hold much power and responsibilities for the lives that they come into contact with. Hence, social work education need to continue to create safe and conducive space for constructive debates and difficult conversations to take place. Social work education plays an imperative role in equipping social work students and future social workers the necessary skills and knowledge for managing the challenges of an immensely fulfilling yet intricately complex profession.
I would advise the next generation of students to always remain open-minded yet critical of the different perspectives and narratives that they would be exposed to in their course of study. More importantly, I would encourage them to be courageous and to not be afraid or making mistakes for that is where they will find their greatest learning. While social work educators may be responsible for delivering content, I would encourage social work students to not underestimate the power of their individual and collective voice should they find any gaps in education. In fact, from my personal experience, social work educators are (generally) more than happy to receive feedback!
Source: own contribution, 18 July 2017.