Nicola Sturgeon has today announced plans to increase bursaries for nursing and midwifery students in Scotland.
The country’s first minister said students studying these courses will be able to receive a grant of £10,000 per year by 2020-21 to help cover accommodation and living expenses during their studies.
“This announcement should shame the government in England who have taken away bursaries for student midwives”
As a result of the move, the bursary available in Scotland is swelling from the current £6,578 per year in a three-stage process.
Nursing and midwifery students with care experience will receive a bump to £8,100 this financial year. Those without care experience will enjoy the same £1,522 uplift in 2019-20.
From 2020-21, every student nurse and midwife will receive a bursary of £10,000 per year, regardless of care experience.
“This extra funding will help make studying nursing or midwifery easier for those who want a career in our health service”
The English government removed bursaries for nursing and midwifery students in 2017 in favour of a loan system.
Ms Sturgeon said: “We know the value of our NHS staff and we know the value of our health service. This extra funding will help make studying nursing or midwifery easier for those who want a career in our health service.”
Commenting on the announcement made by the first minister, Theresa Fyffe, director of the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland, said the Scottish government had listened to calls from the college for fairer funding for students and responded with a bursary that will “truly support” them while they study.
“The increased bursary is an important step in valuing those who choose to nurse and in making nursing an attractive career,” said Ms Fyffe.
“All of the nursing students who will benefit from this new bursary will enter the profession with one aim – to provide safe, high quality care for each and every one of their patients,” she said.
“The increased bursary is an important step in valuing those who choose to nurse”
She added: “Today’s announcement is a clear and welcome indication from the Scottish government that they are listening to the needs of nursing.”
Suzanne Tyler, executive director for services to members at the Royal College of Midwives, which has been lobbying for bursary increases in Scotland, welcomed the announcement.
She said: “The announcement is simply great news for student midwives in Scotland, and those thinking of becoming a midwife there.
“It frankly should shame the government in England who have taken away bursaries for England’s student midwives, who also have to pay tuition fees,” she said. “This leaves them tens of thousands of pounds in debt when they qualify.
“This is even more worrying given the large shortage of midwives in England, and sits at odds with the government’s commitment to bring 3,000 more midwives into the NHS in England,” she added.
Ms Tyler said the RCM was repeating its call to the English government to reinstate midwifery student bursaries in light on the move made in Scotland.