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Social work

Meeting of the NRW Conference of State Deans of Social Work


In the group picture from left: Prof.in Dr. Kristin Sonnenberg (EvH Bochum), Prof.in Dr. Heike Niemeyer (HS Niederrhein), Prof.in Dr. Anja Kannegießer (katho NRW, Münster), Prof. Dr. Martin Spetsmann-Kunkel (katho NRW, Aachen), Prof.in Dr. Andrea Platte (TH Köln), Sabine Beck (Uni Duisburg/Essen), Prof.in Dr. Irene Dittrich (HS Düsseldorf), Prof.in Dr. Katja Nowacki (FH Fachhochschule Dortmund), Prof.in Dr. Heike Wiemert (katho NRW, Cologne), Prof. Dr. Michael Stricker (FH Bielefeld), Prof. Dr. Peter Hansbauer (FH Münster)

At its conference on 3 May 2024, the State Conference of Deans of Social Work (LDK) addressed the shortage of skilled workers in the social and educational professions as well as this year's evaluation of the Social Professions Recognition Act (SobAG).

The event was hosted by Prof. Dr. Heike Wiemert (katho NRW, Cologne location) at the Catholic University of Applied Sciences North Rhine-Westphalia in Cologne. Together with Prof. Dr. Katja Nowacki, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Social Studies at Fachhochschule Dortmund, she has been the spokesperson for the LDK since September 2023.

The LDK is a voluntary association of the deans of the faculties of social work at universities of applied sciences and universities in North Rhine-Westphalia. The committee offers a platform for exchange on the development of social work study programs at the respective universities and pursues the goal of strengthening social work at universities in NRW and representing it externally.

Shortage of skilled workers in social work

The shortage of skilled workers has already occupied the LDK over the course of several meetings, and the appeal to the state government to expand the number of study places in the field of "social work", which the LVR Rhineland State Youth Welfare Committee adopted on March 14, 2024 and sent to the State Chancellery, the Ministry of Family Affairs, the Ministry of Science and the Ministry of Finance, was one of the reasons for new discussions. The central demands of the appeal are "1. the creation of additional study places in social work and related study programs, 2. the creation of additional tuition-free dual study places, which are made available at several universities throughout the state to the municipalities as providers of public youth welfare services (the youth welfare offices) for the dual study of specialists for social services and 3. the creation of opportunities for graduates of related social work study programs to obtain further qualifications through in-service modules so that the requirements for state recognition are met." (Appeal, p. 1)

In particular, the topic of expanding dual study places was also discussed in depth in the round table on the basis of the position paper of the Board of the Social Work Faculty Conference on dual study programs. The exchange showed that in addition to Fachhochschule Dortmund and Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences, which have been offering dual study programs for social work for many years, other state-funded universities are also embarking on this path. The katho department in Paderborn has been offering a dual study program for social work since the winter semester 2023/24, with the Aachen and Cologne locations following suit in the winter semester 2024/25 with 30 study places each. The Münster department will follow suit in the winter semester 2025/26 with a dual course for social work and curative education. Münster University of Applied Sciences is also working on a dual study program for social work. There is a consensus among the deans that the decision to offer dual study programs is made with the aim of not sacrificing the quality and academic standards of the course. Dual students are not a low-cost workforce; rather, the range of courses on offer at the university and practice learning locations places high demands on the support provided to students by teaching staff and practice supervisors. In addition, the management and administration of dual study programs requires more resources from the faculties compared to undergraduate study programs.

Evaluation of the Social Professions Recognition Act (SobAG)

With regard to the evaluation of the Social Professions Recognition Act (SobAG), the practice of awarding state recognition by universities, which in the past was granted by the state or district government, and issues of quality assurance of professional standards and accreditation processes were critically discussed. State recognition is regarded as an important seal of quality for ensuring professional competencies in a field of activity with special professional and social responsibility. The LDK is in discussions on these topics with the State Rectors' Conference of the HAW NRW, the Ministry for Children, Youth, Family, Equality, Refugees and Integration of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and with representatives of democratic parties in the NRW state parliament.

Notes and references

Photo credits

  • Fachhochschule Dortmund | Michel Boße