Shruti Verma


28 April 2016 16:25

NHS funded degrees: response to consultation

In the government’s Autumn budget proposed changes to NHS funded courses (e.g. nursing) were announced:-

  • The grants that are currently provided to nursing students by the NHS are being taken away, and so nursing students will now pay for their courses via tuition fee loans, as with other students. For students who essentially work for the last 2 years of their degree, should they really be paying £9,000 per year for the ‘privilege’ of working?!
  • The cap on numbers for students studying nursing, midwifery and allied health subjects has been removed, so those who want to study nursing are more likely to be able to.

Recently, the government have opened for consultation on the recommendations. You can respond to the paper here if you would like to contribute.

The main bulk of the response I have written (in consultation with Calum Lyon, President of NAMSoc and Academic President for Nursing) on behalf of the Students’ Union is as follows (The rest of the answers I provided were based around this information):-

“Whilst one paper the new proposals look to advantage the currently NHS funded students as they will have more money in pocket during the years that they study and are unlikely to pay back the full amount of their student loans.

However, there are two likely scenarios if the proposal in its current form goes ahead. Firstly, the abolishment of the bursary may well reduce the number of nursing applications as the loans system is a perceived barrier to education that many (particularly mature students) will not be prepared/able to overcome. Health Science degrees are known to be hard work and the students are rarely purely supernumerary when they are on placement, removing the bursary would exaggerate the difficulties of taking on such a degree. The ‘extra’ money that students will have to live on is a smaller percentage increase than the potential percentage increase in cost for a student that must go on placement. Once the NHS is not responsible for funding, it is unclear what the provisions for accommodation would be: will students have to pay for accommodation both close to their university but also at their placement location?

The other potential course is that with no NHS cap on the number of Health Science students, any university could start up a programme which would increase the strain on the already very full placement rotations. With more students in the education system with no increase in the number of jobs there will be many more trained professionals who will end up moving abroad or unemployed. Also, the combination of the removal of NHS funding and the removal of the student number cap means that those who can afford to go to university and support themselves with the extra costs will, but many who will want to attend university to study any one of these courses will not be able to. It creates a classist divide in the country.”

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