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Graduate profile

Professional tasks

Social work is targeted at interventions for social support and for developmental, protective, preventive and/or therapeutic purposes (Sewpaul and Jones, 2004). Based upon available literature (see for example Sewpaul & Jones, 2004), feedback from colleagues during consultations and the commentary on the international definition of social work, the following core purposes of social work were identified for this Master programme, at the levels of the client, the organization and society.

Client level

  • Facilitate the inclusion of marginalized, socially excluded, dispossessed, vulnerable and at-risk groups of people
  • Form short and longer-term working relationships with and mobilize individuals, families, groups, organisations and communities to enhance their well-being and their problem-solving capacities
  • Form short and longer-term working relationships with and mobilize individuals, families, groups, organisations and communities to enhance their well-being and their problem-solving capacities
  • Assist and educate people to obtain services and resources in their communities
  • Work towards the protection of people who are not in a position to do so themselves, for example children and youth in need of care and persons experiencing mental illness or mental retardation, within the parameters of accepted and ethically sound legislation

Organisational level

  • Plan, organize, administer and manage programmes and organizations dedicated to any of these purposes
  • Formulate and implement policies and programmes that enhance people's wellbeing, promote development and human rights, and promote collective social harmony and social stability, insofar as such stability does not violate human rights

Societal level

  • Encourage people to engage in advocacy with regard to pertinent local, national, regional and/or international concerns
  • Act with and/or for people to advocate changes in those policies and structural conditions that maintain people in marginalized, dispossessed and vulnerable positions, and those that infringe the collective social harmony and stability of various ethnic groups, insofar as such stability does not violate human rights
  • Promote respect for traditions, cultures, ideologies, beliefs and religions amongst different ethnic groups and societies, insofar as these do not conflict with the fundamental human rights of people

International perspective

  1. There is a growing need for junior and senior social workers, advisors in social work as well as policy experts who have an international perspective on social work.
  2. There is a need for a broader and deeper European vision on social work and social policy.

Needs met by the European Master:
The core semester (Comparative Social Policy) and some electives about European Social Policy will equip students to meet these needs. Although the foundation of the profession is generalist, this master programme will provide the graduates with tools and an attitude that guarantee international perspectives on research and cooperation in social work. Moreover, during their studies, graduates will build an international network of colleagues (students and teachers) that will be extremely helpful to meet the demands of their profession. By educating students in this way the European Master contributes to the internationalization of social policy and the profession of social worker.

Professional roles

In order to meet the needs mentioned above, social work professionals have to cover a number of roles. The Master course will provide its graduates with the competences needed to perform these. Below, the roles are mentioned, and which above mentioned needs they address.

Umbrella role: senior social worker in a European context
Graduates will be able to take up senior roles and functions above the level of Bachelor graduates. They will be able to execute their function in an autonomous way, to perform management tasks and to perform well within a multidisciplinary context or environment.
Graduates will also be able to identify and evaluate (the impact of) European developments and policies relevant for their work and the organizations they work for, and how to meet these, both at personal/professional and organizational level.

Specific roles

Role 1: policy expert
In contrast to a Bachelor, a Master graduate in European Social Work can identify and evaluate relevant policies from the European Union that have an impact on his/her own organization and on the possibilities, requirements and restrictions for the clients. The graduate has gained knowledge of (European) policies, and is able to keep that knowledge up to date, to be used for developing new strategies for internal (organizational) policies, the solution of complex (organizational) issues, implementing innovative plans etc. Also, he or she is able to offer sound advice and policy development for the own and other social work organizations.

Role 2: senior case worker
Master graduates will be able to handle complex case work requiring a senior level of competence, such as cases involving multiple nationalities and/or ethnic groups. In addition to greater knowledge of international approaches, graduates are able to apply intercultural competences to deal effectively with the sensitivities of interaction and interventions involving such clients. Also, the graduate will develop adequate multidisciplinary strategies, achieving cooperation within case-support chains.

Role 3: networker/trainer
The graduate is capable to establish (international) networks or expand and maintain an existing network. This fits well with the current trend towards increasing international cooperation between welfare organizations. Also, the graduate is able to bring relevant knowledge about European developments into the organisation.
Also, he or she will be capable to offer training to (junior) colleagues (internal staff development) and coaching and training volunteers.

Role 4: coordinator, project manager, senior staff officer
Graduates are able to manage an organisation for social work and social work projects, and work in a planned, policy and project oriented manner for a variety of organisations (also international ones).
The graduate is able to signal developments in society and translate these into strategic plans for the organisation and has the analytic capacity to produce reports, memos or other documents concerning the implications of EU policies for the organization. Also, he or she has knowledge of funding possibilities (national and European).

Role 5: practitioner-researcher
Graduates will have gained the scientific, academic, and professional competences to carry out independent practice-oriented research (research design, collecting data, and research report), and are able to present research results to a wide variety diversity of (international) audiences, and in various ways (articles, presentations etc.). Practitioners-researchers in Social Work are practitioners in the first place; research is aimed at improving the profession and professional behaviour.