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Exclusive: University cancels learning disability course in wake of bursary removal

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A London university has been forced to cancel its undergraduate learning disability nursing course this year because too few suitable people applied following the removal of student bursaries.

London South Bank University saw applications reduce by 75% this year for its BSc learning disability nursing degree.

“Following the loss of the NHS bursary, applications to study on the BSc learning disability nursing course at LSBU were below a [viable] level”

Professor Warren Turner

A total of 79 people applied for the course, compared with 337 in 2016 – which last year resulted in 29 on the programme.

The university said it had enough space for up to 32 people on the course, but that it would still have been financially viable if it had filled 20 places.

However it said it had failed to identify enough suitable candidates to fill the minimum number of spaces and so had been forced to cancel the degree training this year.

“We are recruiting however for our September 2018 intake for both our PGDip and BSc degree courses”

Professor Warren Turner

LSBU said it had directed those students it had made offers to towards other universities in or just outside London that were able to run learning disability nursing courses this year.

It stressed that LSBU was still running its postgraduate diploma training in learning disability nursing this year.

The university also highlighted that it expected its undergraduate course to return from September 2018 and was currently recruiting to fill 32 spaces.

London South Bank University

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Professor Warren Turner

It said it was exploring whether to offer the course in future as a part-time option, as well as full-time, as a degree apprenticeship and also possibly in combination with a social work qualification

“Following the loss of the NHS bursary, applications to study on the BSc learning disability nursing course at LSBU were below a level where we could recruit a viable cohort in Sept 2017,” Professor Warren Turner, dean of LSBU’s school of health and social care, told Nursing Times.

“We are currently taking a PGDip learning disability student cohort through this September, but we are not running the BSc learning disability course this year. We are recruiting however for our September 2018 intake for both our PGDip and BSc degree courses,” he added.

The government announced at the end of 2015 that free university training for student nurses, midwives and allied health professionals in England would end from autumn 2017.

It claimed the move would allow 10,000 additional students to train by 2020 because university training places would no longer be constrained by annual funding budgets.

Earlier this year official figures showed a 23% drop in the number of people in England applying to train as a nurse at university.

Concerns have previously been raised that smaller courses, such as learning disability nursing, and those that traditionally attract mature students, such as mental health nursing, would be more at risk following the reduction in applications.

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