Eliminate the inflated practicum fee for Carleton University Social Work students!

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We, the Master of Social Work students of Carleton University have great concern regarding the current MSW summer practicum fees. The current cost of completing this summer practicum is approximately $3,500, equivalent to the cost of a full-time course load for one term. This fee appears to be unnecessarily inflated, given the fact that we will be completing an unpaid placement outside of the University for the duration of the summer term. During this time, the practicum seminar is the only course that students will be required to attend at the University, which consists of 12 hours of classroom time over a 6-week period, for a total cost of $3,540.61. By comparison, a full-time course load for Advanced Year MSW students consists of 108 hours of classroom time over a 12-week period, for a total cost of $3,799.78 per term. 

We as a student body have great concerns about the financial burden of this cost, given the fact that our full-time placements make it very challenging to maintain additional employment during this period. 

Although the cost of summer fees may be consistent across various departments at Carleton, the cost of an unpaid placement, even if it is held during the summer semester, requires modification if the financial circumstances of students are to be taken into account.

The Social Work Department is one of the only departments at the university that requires students to pay full tuition while completing a working-term component. Moreover, in comparing the fee structure of the MSW practicum to other similarly designed programs, there appears to be a significant disparity between the fees charged for “co-op” terms vs. “practicum” terms. Carleton University defines co-op as a combination of traditional, in-class education with hands-on experience, where students alternate study terms with work terms. The cost for a graduate to complete two work terms in the co-op program is $1170. Students enrolled in a co-op program are also paid accordingly, where a student in the Master in Infrastructure Protection and International Security (M.I.P.I.S) program for example, would be paid $20.90/hr on average. Students completing a co-op also have the option of taking one course, which they would pay a part-time fee for.  

It is our opinion that this striking disparity in Carleton’s fee and pay structure for S.T.E.M. co-op terms, as compared to the Social Work unpaid practicums, also reflects a systemic and gendered devaluing of social service work.   

We recognize that a small portion of the tuition fee is directed towards insurance costs to cover students while in the practicum setting, this significantly lesser cost will continue to be covered by students. 

We are requesting the elimination of tuition fees for the spring/summer MSW practicum placement, with retroactive reimbursement in the case that students pay tuition for the spring/summer term of 2018.