Intersectional impact of multiple identities on social work education in the UK

Ben Chi-pun Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Summary: The study reviews the records of 671 social work students and graduates including the seven intakes from the first cohort in 2003/2004 to the intake in 2010/2011 to examine the interacting effect of learning difficulties, ethnicity and gender on the completion of social work training at a university in the South East of England. Findings: Among the students, 79.9% of them were female, 50.1% were black, 27.9% white, 10.7% Asian and 11.3% other ethnicities. A majority of students did not report any disability. Among those who did (n ¼ 84), 52.3% (n ¼ 44) reported a learning difficulty.The percentage of students who have successfully completed the training is 76.4%, a completion rate that is comparable to the UK’s national figure. Having controlled the confounding variables, hierarchical logistic regression identified the risk factor for dropoutfrom undergraduate social work programme as black female students with learning difficulties (odds ratio ¼ 0.100, 95% confidence interval ¼ 0.012–0.862, p < 0.05). Findings suggested that students with multiplicity of identities, i.e. being black and female and with a learning difficulty, have a lower probability to complete the programme successfully. Applications: Strategies for tackling the intersecting disadvantages of race, gender and disabilities in social work training should embrace three principles: providing continuous support, focusing on how the support is provided and addressing contextual and structural barriers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-242
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Social Work
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • Social work education, learning disability, ethnicity, gender


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