Involving service users and carers in admissions for courses in social work and clinical psychology: a cross disciplinary comparison of practices at the University of Brimingham

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Rationales for involving service users and carers in professional health and social work education tend to derive from arguments of empowerment, consumer rights and/or improvement in service outcomes. In the UK, these rationales are now firmly embedded, and involvement is increasingly expected in all aspects of training, but little literature exists describing or evaluating the impact of involvement outside teaching activities. This paper describes the approach to involvement in admissions interviews in the social work and clinical psychology programmes at the University of Birmingham. It reports the results of a post hoc survey into the experiences and expectations of the 2007-08 cohorts of successful applicants and interview-panel members from each programme, with the aims of highlighting underlying rationales and informing future practice. Survey respondents tended to focus on outcome-based rationales rather than value-based ones in support of involvement. Impact on the selection process was cited by many as important, but service user and carer visibility to applicants may be a more significant outcome. Disagreements among panel members were uncommon, but did raise some training and procedural issues. To be meaningful, the rationale(s) for involvement should be clearly articulated at the outset and the mode(s) of involvement should reflect this.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2137-2154
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • Social work education, clinical psychology education, carers, service users