Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

It’s time to stop taking students for granted

  • Comment
In under a year, I hope to leave university as a qualified nurse. But will this just mark a stage along an uncertain road with no job in prospect? Many nursing students worry about this.

With jobs in uncertain supply, some nursing students wonder whether the three-year university slog is worthwhile and their morale sinks.

It needn’t be that way. Their anxiety could be eased if there were a government guarantee of at least temporary employment at the end of it all. But, of course, such safety nets are not in favour. It is all left to ‘market forces’. If nurses cannot find work on qualification, so be it.

Apart from employment uncertainty, it does not help that in-course bursaries are so mean.
A sum of £6,915 is not generous by any standard and falls far short of the national minimum wage. Assuming a working week of 35 hours, it amounts to just £3.80 an hour. From day one, students are having to beg and borrow to live.

One way of providing in-course help would be to discard the convenient fiction that students on placement are ‘supernumerary’ and pay them a proper wage for placement work. Instead, planners perpetuate a monstrous pretence that allows them to be used as unpaid auxiliaries for half of their three-year training time.

The unfairness of the system is obvious to all. Yet many students won’t even talk about it openly for fear of being dubbed uncooperative. The vast majority of students want nothing more on placement than to muck in as part of the care team, however hard and dirty the work may be.

That’s why they chose to take up nursing.

What demoralises them is being taken for granted and having their placement inputs denied for the financial convenience of the government.

Lesley McHarg is a third-year nursing student in Scotland

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.