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Nurse education bodies locked in talks over course funding cuts

Universities remain locked in negotiations with the body Health Education England over cuts to funding for nursing and midwifery courses.

HEE plans wants to cut funding for nursing degrees by 4% from 2014-15 – a move that has prompted concern and anger in the higher education sector.

A recent report, published by the Council of Deans of Health and Universities UK, warned that funding cuts could jeopardise course quality and ultimately that of nursing.

Some universities may even pull out of offering courses altogether if funding is reduced, claimed the report, as previously revealed by Nursing Times in March.

Talks between HEE, the COD and Universities UK are continuing after the parties failed to agree a benchmark price (BMP) – the nationally agreed amount of money universities get for each nursing student place.

Nursing Times understands the higher education bodies have asked HEE to agree a “holding position” while a full review of the cost of providing courses is carried out. This has not been examined in detail since 2007, when a government-backed review concluded funding had already fallen “significantly behind” the cost of providing courses.

The proposed funding cuts would open up a 12-16% funding gap, according to the COD and Universities UK.

The failure to agree a BMP means universities also face uncertainty about funding for the forthcoming academic year and into the future, making it harder to plan courses. In some areas, it appears contracts are being rolled over without waiting for the BMP to be finalised.

Both COD and Universities UK said they did not want to comment while negotiations continued.

An HEE spokeswoman said: “Talks are ongoing and in the meantime the current rate remains in force until the start of the academic year this autumn.”

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