Supervising international social work students in Australia: The positionings of placement educators

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This paper examines how placement educators position themselves with regard to supervising international social work students in Australia. Existing research into placement educators’ experiences of supervising international students generally adopts a post-positivist perspective which views participants’ recounted experiences as representing reality. This paper adopts positioning theory, a constructivist perspective, which views participants’ accounts as a means of constructing their identities within an experiential framework. Analysis of 15 interviews with social work placement educators reveals that they position themselves as treating international students equally to domestic students, and being adaptive and supportive to international students’ needs. They also position themselves as having time constraints while positioning universities as being responsible for preparing students. Educators’ positionings suggest that they see themselves as having a degree of agency in addressing challenges, while simultaneously calling for further institutional support. This has implications for supporting placement educators’ professional development in response to an increasing number of international students completing social work placements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-22
Number of pages16
JournalAdvances in Social Work and Welfare Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Field education
  • International students
  • Professional development
  • Positioning theory
  • Internationalisation
  • Social work education

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