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Professional Conduct for Social Work Students

Approved by Senate on April 19, 2006 upon recommendation by the Academic Policy Committee.

Introduction

The School of Social Work and Family Studies is charged with ensuring that all of its graduates have the requisite competencies and can meet the professional practice standards to be eligible for professional registration as Registered Social Workers in the Province of British Columbia. Professional social work behaviour requires adherence to the BC Association of Social Workers and the Board of Registration for Social Workers Code of Ethics (2002) and the Board of Registration Standards of Practice (2002). The professional conduct of social work students is directed by these standards, as well as by University policy. Professional social work ethics and standards are taught in the School’s social work curriculum.

General Policy

Social work students are expected to behave in a professional manner in all aspects of the program and are responsible and accountable for their actions. Faculty are expected to help students interpret specific School and/or practicum guidelines and apply them in their conduct. It is the responsibility of Social Work faculty and students to familiarize themselves with the guidelines.

Examples of unprofessional conduct include but are not limited to:

  • Disruptive and inappropriate behaviour;
  • Behaving in a manner which endangers students, faculty, staff, practicum agency staff, clients and/or volunteers;
  • Harassing or being abusive towards students, faculty, staff, practicum agency staff, clients and/or volunteers;
  • Breaches of confidentiality.

In addition, social work students convicted of, or admitting to, serious illegal activities that are inconsistent with the practice of social work or likely to harm clients (such as assault, sexual assault, fraud, or trafficking in narcotics) will be subject to the procedure set out in this policy.

In addition, social work students convicted of, or admitting to, serious illegal activities that are inconsistent with the practice of social work or likely to harm clients (such as assault, sexual assault, fraud, or trafficking in narcotics) will be subject to the procedure set out in this policy.

Social work students should also note that the laying of criminal charges, the commencement of civil proceedings, or the commencement of student disciplinary proceedings does not preclude the University from initiating the procedure set out in this policy.

Advancement

Although satisfactory performance in both academic coursework and in practicum placements is a prerequisite to advancement, it is not the sole criterion in the consideration of the suitability of a student for advancement or graduation. The School of Social Work and Family Studies reserves the right to require a student to withdraw from the School if the student is considered to be unsuited to proceed with the study or practice of social work. A student may be considered unsuited to proceed with the study or practice of social work if he or she engages in unprofessional conduct.

Procedure for Alleged Unprofessional Conduct

When a member of faculty, staff, or practicum agency staff (the “Complainant”) believes that unprofessional conduct may have occurred, the Complainant is expected to first discuss the alleged unprofessional behaviour with the student. If the matter is not resolved satisfactorily between the student and the Complainant, or if the alleged unprofessional behaviour persists, the Complainant will bring the matter to the attention of the Program Coordinator, whose practice will generally be as follows:

  1. The Program Coordinator and/or the Program Advisor will use reasonable efforts to notify the student of the allegations in writing, and invite him or her to meet with the Program Coordinator and the Program Advisor to discuss the matter.
  2. The Program Coordinator and the Program Advisor will meet with the student and the Complainant to review the allegations. During this meeting, the student will be given the opportunity to respond to them. This may resolve the matter satisfactorily for all parties. If the student does not respond to the invitation or if he or she refuses to meet with the Program Coordinator and the Program Advisor, the meeting will proceed without the benefit of the student’s response to the allegations, and the student will be informed in writing of the outcome.
  3. If the matter is not resolved as a result of the meeting described in paragraph 2 above, the Complainant, within two weeks after the meeting described above, will submit to the Associate Director of the School a written detailed account of the allegations (including the names of any witnesses or facts that support his or her account). The Associate Director will provide the student with a copy of this written account.
  4. Within two weeks after the Associate Director has provided the student with a copy of the Complainant’s written account, the student may submit to the Associate Director his or her own written detailed account of the allegations (including the names of any witnesses or facts that support his or her account).
  5. The Associate Director will designate a faculty member to review the information provided in paragraphs 3 and 4 above. If, in the opinion of the faculty member reviewing the matter, an investigation is required, the faculty member will investigate the matter. The faculty member will submit all information and his or her findings to the Associate Director.
  6. The Associate Director may decide to dismiss the complaint if the complaint is unsubstantiated or, if substantiated, is not a serious matter. However, if the Associate Director finds that the complaint is a serious matter and is substantiated, the Associate Director will consult with the Director who will determine whether the student is unsuited to proceed with the study or practice of social work and should be required to withdraw from the program. The Director will notify the student of his or her decision in writing.
  7. If the student is not satisfied with the Director’s decision, the student can appeal to UBC’s Senate Committee on Appeals on Academic Standing.

Unless otherwise specified above, all steps to be taken by the Program Coordinator, the Program Advisor, the Associate Director, the faculty member designated to review and/or investigate the matter or the Director will be taken within a reasonable period of time.

This information is for quick reference. For the full text of the Minutes of Senate, which include the motions and discussion, please see the Minutes Archive.

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