September 25, 2022

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Students in Dublin Business School (DBS) social care courses are calling on Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris to intervene and the college to provide refunds after they were told this week their degrees would not be enough to qualify them for registration as social care workers.

Students have been told that the college had withdrawn its application to CORU, the regulator for health and social care professionals in Ireland, for the required accreditation at the start of the summer when it became apparent that the application would not be successful.

Without the CORU accreditation graduates of the BA and BA (Hons) in Applied Social Care in DBS will be unable to become registered social care workers.

“The course is useless without the CORU approval,” said Carmel Corrigan, a mature, part-time student who has just completed second year.

“Without it, we will have the degree, which is a Level 7 qualification but we might as well only have a Fetac Level 5. We would only be able to work able to work as Social Care Assistants, which is slightly above minimum wage, but a few of the students were already doing that and were doing this course, spending €16,000 in fees, to advance their careers.”

The Applied Social Care course was established by DBS in 2018 and received validation by the Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) and had been in the process of seeking approval from CORU.

However, earlier this month students received an email from the school stating the current programmes “will not be included as approved qualifications by CORU’s registration board”. This means the completion of current programmes alone will not enable graduates to join CORU’s register of social care workers.

The letter, seen by The Irish Times, said DBS was “currently working on revisions to these programmes for future approval by both QQI and CORU”.

‘Unprecedented circumstances’

A second email told students that while the programme in DBS was “designed and mapped to the CORU standards of proficiencies, the CORU board did not deem the programme as sufficiently meeting their requirements to be listed as an approved qualification at this time”.

These were “unprecedented circumstances” for the college, the email said.

At an online meeting on Monday, students were told the implications were that they would not be enabled to work as a registered social care worker when the register opens in 2023.

Under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005, students will not be able to use the professional title of social care worker. Students were advised that if they had been working in a social care setting already, they may be eligible to qualify for the register under a different route.

However, Ms Corrigan says that she asked the two representatives of the college at the meeting if she would ever, as things stand, be able to work as a registered social care worker on the basis of having done the course and she was told she would not.

Ms Corrigan says she and other students immediately began to contact other colleges about transferring but were told they would receive no credits for the time they have already done at DBS because its course is not accredited. “We’re left to hope that Simon Harris will help get us into other courses,” she said.

The number of students affected is believed to around 80. A number took to social media to highlight the situation on Saturday.

Emma Corbally, who is entering into her third year of the course, said she believed this “would be my second last year till I qualify as a Social Care Worker, to find out only a few days ago that at the end I will leave with nothing”.

“All the hard work we’ve put into assignments, exams and also doing 400 hours of unpaid placement with another 400 hours to complete, again unpaid. It’s very upsetting, I have wasted 2 important years of my life, never mind those in the course who wasted 4,” she said.

Efforts to contact the members of staff who represented the college in its dealings with the affected students this week and the college itself proved unsuccessful on Saturday.

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