Children’s social work charity Frontline has reported having received over 100 applications to its Leadership Development Programme from Oxford finalists over the course of last year.

In a press release, the charity welcomed the dramatic increase in Oxonian interest in social work from 2011, when only five Oxbridge finalists went on to do social work masters courses.

A Frontline spokesperson told Cherwell, “This is a remarkable shift from a few years ago. The large number of Oxford students applying to the Frontline graduate programme reflects the desire of many Oxford students to enter a career which makes a positive social impact and helps change the lives of some of the UK’s most vulnerable children”.

Frontline offers a two-year graduate Leadership Development Programme where participants train for 12 months, then start their second years as qualified social workers. Francis Goodburn, a Computer Scientist at St John’s College enrolled on the course, told Cherwell he was looking for a job where he would know “what I am doing is truly worthwhile”.

He added, “I don’t think anyone with half a heart could argue that there is a task much more worthwhile than protecting our society’s most vulnerable children from abuse and neglect, and as anyone who has read the news recently will know – with several tragic cases of children’s deaths due to abuse or neglect from their guardians – there certainly couldn’t be a more challenging job, particularly with the recent cuts to local authority funding”.

Some have criticised Frontline’s targeting of Oxbridge and Russell Group universities. One online commentator wrote, “[Frontline recruitment] is based on an elitist model where some universities are ‘better’ than others… I don’t think the university you go to defines your quality of potential for social work or your intelligence and ability to critically analyse and reflect.”