Free tuition fees for nurses in Scotland will not be affected by the UK government’s announcement of student funding reforms, the Scottish government has confirmed.
However, as revealed by Nursing Times last year, the Scottish government is currently carrying out a review of the maintenance bursary it provides to students to pay for their living costs.
“The Scottish government is committed to maintaining free tuition fees for Scottish students including nurses and midwives”
In a statement, health secretary for Scotland Shona Robison said the Scottish government was “committed to maintaining free tuition fees for Scottish students, including nurses and midwives”.
She noted that student nurses and midwives in Scotland had access to a bursary of around £6,500 for living costs that was not means tested.
In contrast in England, nursing students are currently entitled to a bursary, which is partially means tested. Under the government reforms announced last week as part of the autumn spending review, bursaries will be scrapped and replaced with a loan.
Ms Robison said: “While we offer a good package for students, it’s extremely important that nursing and midwifery continues to be an attractive area of study for our Scottish students.
“This is why we’re undertaking a review into the funding package available to nursing and midwifery students, to ensure that it continues to meet their needs,” she said.
She added: “When it comes to deciding on student numbers we have robust planning processes in place. In January we announced a 3% increase in student nursing and midwifery intake, a third successive rise. This is in addition to a 6% rise in 2014-15.
“The Scottish government is committed to maintaining free tuition fees for Scottish students, including nurses and midwives,” said Ms Robison.
Meanwhile, the Welsh government has said the the policy change in England – which means student nurses will have to take out a loan to fund their degree, probably from September 2017 – would have “inevitable implications” for Wales.