The credit crunch appears to be hitting students hard this year, with 50% saying they have thought of quitting due to money worries – up from 44% in 2007, results of Unison’s 2008 national survey of students show.
The survey also reveals that 70% of bursary students have to do extra work to supplement their income. Of these, 26% worked between 16 and 20 hours per week and 8% worked in excess of 21 hours.
Like last year nursing students are finishing their courses with an average debt of nearly £7,000. This represents a 177% increase since 2003, when the average debt was £2,500.
More than 90% of the 360 respondents said the current bursary system should be scrapped and students should be paid a salary instead.
Gail Adams, Unison’s head of nursing and report author, said: ‘Students are working an increasing amount of hours to survive. I am concerned about the number of hours they are working and the impact that it has on their studies and patient care.
‘Other people may not like it but students felt that they should be salaried employees. That is not a popular option – but we have to start listening to what students are saying,’ she added.
But Ben Mott, chairperson of the RCN’s association of nursing students, said he was opposed to nursing students being paid a salary.
‘If you are on an employer’s terms and conditions, there is then the temptation for them to use us as solutions to gaps in the workforce,’ he said.
‘What we would find is that we would become glorified HCAs. We have got to have students who are totally supernumerary,’ he added.