Student nurse and midwife numbers in Scotland are to increase by more than 5% in 2016-17, with an additional 150 course places announced by the Scottish government.
This represents the fourth consecutive year training places have risen and will boost next year’s intake of students to 3,200, said ministers.
“Today’s increase in student intake numbers highlights our on-going commitment to investing in the future of the NHS”
The announcement comes after the government revealed its budget for Scotland yesterday, including a £500m cash injection for NHS health boards, bringing their total budget for next year to around £13bn.
Despite an ongoing review of the bursaries provided to students for living costs, Scotland’s health secretary, Shona Robison, confirmed that the money would be protected at existing levels in 2016-17.
Ms Robison said the bursary was “generous by comparison with England” – which currently offers a means-tested bursary that will in the future be replaced with a maintenance loan under major student nurse funding reforms announced last month.
“Our approach to student support – alongside our commitment to free tuition fees – is in stark contrast with actions of the UK government where free nursing tuition and bursaries are to be removed entirely,” said Ms Robison.
“Our approach to student support – alongside our commitment to free tuition fees – is in stark contrast with actions of the UK government”
She said results from Scotland’s review of the bursary scheme would be announced in June 2016.
Meanwhile, the Scottish government also announced it would start projecting student intake figures over a three-year period with a built-in annual review.
“We are committed to investing in frontline spending, with yesterday’s budget outlining an additional £500m for health boards in 2016-17, bringing the overall health budget to a record total of just under £13bn,” said Ms Robison.
“Today’s increase in student intake numbers builds on this and highlights our on-going commitment to investing in the future of the NHS,” she said.
“There is no doubt that there is pressure on our NHS as it rises to the demands of dealing with an ageing population. However by working with partners, and investing in the future workforce, we can continue to ensure that our health service provides first class care for generations to come,” she added.
Academ welcomed the announcement that student nurse and midwifery numbers would increase by 5.6% next year. .
However, the Council of Deans of Health Scotland also renewed its call to move toward three-year planning so universities were better able to plan for future student numbers.
“There is an element of guesswork to match the number of offers and actual places”
In Scotland, nursing and midwifery undergraduate place numbers are commissioned by Scottish Government on an annual basis.
Professor Brian Webster-Henderson, convenor of the Council of Deans of Health Scotland, said: “We very much welcome this news from Scottish government that there is to again be an increase in student numbers for next year.”
He added:“Currently, the annual allocation for each university is usually provided after offers have been sent out to applicants, so there is an element of guesswork to match the number of offers and actual places.
“The council is again calling on the government to provide student number for the next three years, which is the normal duration of the undergraduate degree course,” he said. “This would allow for our members to ensure that they are able to plan ahead and provide the necessary resources and correct place numbers.”