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Credit crunch forces student nurses to seek second job, says RCN survey


Almost three quarters of student nurses have had to get a second job so they could afford to study during the credit crunch, suggests an RCN survey.

Additionally, nearly half of the 4,500 student nurses who responded to the RCN’s survey said they have considered leaving their course altogether.

More than half of respondents said they were working more than ten hours a week in paid employment alongside their studies in order to make ends meet.

Credit crunch

RCN general secretary Peter Carter said: ‘It’s clear that student nurses are struggling to keep their heads above water because they’re saddled with debt and the support on offer is far from ideal.

‘The government needs to introduce a liveable non-means tested bursary of £12,000 so that fees and spiralling living costs don’t stop nurses from staying the course, completing their studies and delivering high quality care for years to come,’ he said.

The survey follows a similar piece of research by Unison, published in September, which suggested 23% of student nurses had debts in excess of £10,000.


Readers' comments (17)

  • I was a mature nursing student and had to work to supplement my bursary. Now 7years on - I love my job, but still have a 'second' job to pay the bills.

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  • I am a first year student nurse and am a mature student with a young family. I currently have to work weekends as a HCSW but am still not earning enough to keep afloat. I feel that the bursary should definitely be increased as most of our time is spent on placement and we are worked very hard even though we are supposed to be supernumerary.

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  • I can sympathise that the bursary for Student Nurses is simply not enough considering that when I was training my rent for 12 months of the year was £300 exclusive of bills and food to survive!! But like many of my friends who were also from the Republic of Ireland we didn’t not receive any money what so ever from either Irish or UK government for the full 3 years of nurse training. This issue was often brought up by us within our university but was always ignored and no support shown.

    Needless to say I completed my nurse training for the 3 years and passed all my assessments each time but that was a struggle considering I sometimes had my 37.5 hours at placement plus work all weekend as a support worker in order to make money to survive. For me luckily my parents were supportive and struggled each week to give me money too while having two other children in Uni!

    And guess what I am still working for the NHS and I haven’t returned to my own country like we were told we would all do after our training!

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    ("Us ''untrained'' NA's/HCA's get paid more that students, because hey...were there full time!! Students don't have to do a 14hr shift with no break like we do every week.
    I'm on £12393, and I'm sorry that's still under inflation. I agree the nursing bursary should be more, however there's always secondment. Our trust has secondment's and you can do overtime if you wish. The nursing bursary is still a lot more than any other course, which is why it is probably overlooked.")

    So students don't do 14 hour shifts? Yes we do!

    Students don't work full time? No, we work more! Full time on placements, then extra shifts to earn money, then study on top of it!

    Secondments? Good luck trying to get one!

    And the bursary is a joke! I would love to see you try and live on it. 'Us' students (grammatical error wholly and sarcastically intentional) are forced to live on it because we have a drive, a passion to nurse, and must endure this to do so.

    You want respect as an HCA? Try respecting students a little first, it goes a long way.

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  • Well I'm about to start nurse training, and while I'd love more money than the current system, I dont think we particularly deserve it. We already get more funding than other students (which considering pay after training I think is fair), and while it's not a lot, its a sacrifice that has to be made... just imagine if you'd chosen to study something else.
    I personally will have just enough to live on, but this is because I have never earnt over minimum wage, I will be living in a shared house, not having a car etc. But then I've been on the dole before and thats far less ;p ...

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  • Hi All, I am, and have been for some time now (just not been able to pluck up the courage to apply), considering becoming a student nurse. I will be a mature student, single mum of two and from some of the comments above, I'm wondering if I would manage on the bursary. I would be giving up a well paid job, but looking for more rewards and long term job security.
    Does anyone know how the bursary affects child tax/working tax credits?
    I'm also undecided if I would be able to study full or part-time, what with child care after school for the kids etc. Would I get any extra financial help with this? How many hours a week would I be expected to work/study? I'm 35 and have been a bit of a plodder, but have managed to 'work my way up the ladder' so to speak, but really feel that if I don't do something about this soon I never will. Any comments would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.

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  • I am a mature student, a single parent with teenage children and have recently started to study nursing at the degree level. I agree that the bursary is not fit for purpose, particularly for degree students. A bursary of £4000 per year is difficult enough to survive on, but it has been the loss of other help, such as housing and council tax benefit that has caused the greatest levels of additional hardship. It is fair to say that my family and I are now living well below the poverty line after all the bills have been paid, forcing the question as to whether it is a feasible option to continue with my studies for the next three years. I did research student finance prior to my application, and it all sounds good, in theory. It is a very different matter when applying for the help.

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