From September 2017, students enrolling on Nursing, Midwifery, and Health Higher Education programmes could no longer access NHS Bursaries to fund their tuition fees. Instead students on these programmes are able to access tuition fee and maintenance loans via Student Finance England.
At the University of Cumbria, we have found that our members of Nursing, Health, and Midwifery programmes are increasingly feeling the strain. To complete their courses, students must meet stringent professional requirements. For instance; to successfully complete their course, student Nurses must complete 2300 hours of practice which “is required to be undertaken in direct care of clients”[i]. In practice, this is equivalent to nearly a year-and-a-half of full-time, unpaid work for the NHS[ii]. Students must complete an additional 2300 hours of theory work in a University setting to successfully graduate.
In the past, students were in affect remunerated for their time on placement through the bursaries system.
On 19th February 2018, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced a major review into funding for post-18 education, including Universities. The primary objective of the review was to “ensure a joined-up system that works for everyone” and “encourages the development of the skills that we need as a country”[iii].
We feel that the Government needs to do more to support Nursing, Midwifery, and Health students. We also feel the Government needs to do more to attract students onto health and medicine programmes, as applicant numbers continue to drop dramatically following the removal of NHS Bursaries[iv].
“It would be nice to bring back bursaries, but just a better financial package for student nurses which doesn’t mean getting in an awful lot of debt and struggle would be ideal!” – Deborah Farrington, Nursing, Health & Professional Practice Rep, University of Cumbria Students’ Union
On Wednesday 2nd May, UCSU will be leading a lobbyiong day in Parliament. We will be joined by MPs, the Royal College of Nursing, other Students' Unions, and student Nurses from across the country.
[i] Nursing and Midwifery Council, Standards for pre-registration nursing education, September 2010, p9, link
[ii] Based upon a minimum full-time working week of 35 hours.
[iii] Department of Education, Review of Post-18 Education and Funding, February 2018, link
[iv] Applications for Nursing programmes fell from 48,230 in January 2017, to 32,580 in January 2018. Source: Alex Matthews-King, Nursing course applications fall for second year after student bursary scrapped, 5th February 2018, The Independent, link