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University more than quadruples fee-paying course places


A university nursing course launched last year that sees students pay their own tuition fees is to more than quadruple in size in 2017, due to demand from local NHS trusts in the North East.

A total of 23 students started on the adult nursing degree programme at the University of Sunderland when it launched in April 2016.

The trainees pay the annual £9,000 tuition fees themselves and no money has been provided by Health Education England to fund placements with local employers City Hospitals Sunderland and South Tyneside Foundation Trusts.

Instead, the university said it had “entered into financial agreements with the trusts in relation to placement provision”. This arrangement is in contrast to the majority of students in the UK who are in the last year of receiving a bursary.

Following discussions with three more NHS employers, up to 130 more student nurses will begin the course this month – and the university aims to recruit the same number of students again in September 2017.

“We were one of the first universities to go down the non-commissioned [fee-paying] nursing route”

Simone Bedford

The increased number of placements will be provided by County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, and Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The expansion was given the go-ahead following an assessment by the Nursing and Midwifery Council to ensure the programme still met the regulator’s required teaching standards.

Following the government’s decision to scrap bursaries in England, all student nurses starting pre-registration courses across the country from autumn 2017 will have to pay for their own tuition fees and living costs by taking out a loan.

The University of Sunderland confirmed to Nursing Times that it would be charging the maximum of £9,250 annual fees in the coming academic year.

It reiterated that it had “entered into financial agreements” with the five trusts providing placements.

In addition, the university is extending its teaching facilities through a £3.5m refurbishment of its Shackleton House site, which will open in the autumn.

“Students will have more choice on where to do their placement and will benefit from a broader network of colleagues”

Simone Bedford

The redeveloped Shackleton House will include two mock wards, assessment suites, an industry-standard positive pressure isolation room and a mock patient transfer suite, which will see students practise moving from a functioning ambulance parked outside.

Simone Bedford, principal lecturer in nursing at the University of Sunderland, said: “We were one of the first universities to go down the non-commissioned [fee-paying] nursing route and in under a year we’re unique in the number of partners we now have.

“So, it’s brilliant for the area, and for the students who will have more choice on where to do their placement, and who will benefit from a broader network of colleagues they have trained with – who they will undoubtedly encounter through their career,” she said.

“After several meetings, we were delighted when all the health trusts came on board and said, ‘we really like your programme and can see the benefits of having home-grown nurses to fill the workforce gap’,” she added.

University of Sunderland

University more than quadruples fee-paying course places

Sunderland school of nursing students



Readers' comments (11)

  • No men, no mature students and a very poor representation of the BME.

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  • Anon 0.55 - have to say I was thinking exactly the same thing. It's such a stark picture of lack of diversity in their first cohort. I hope the university works hard to attract greater diversity in their second cohort...

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  • No matter how hard they work, it won't change the fact that a student now has to pay 9250 x 3 years tuition fees only, for a course that has absolutely NO extraordinary and special benefits other than obtening a registered PIN number at the end! This is just another big business that makes a hand full of people very very rich! The training could be easily done in hospitals, on the wards and some classes, like it has always been done in the past!

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  • £27000 of debt at the end of it and a starting wage of £20000. What a good idea.

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  • Young folk struggle to get on the property ladders and staring out in life with huge debt si not thefts way to encourage anyone into nursing.

    I did my training within my own hospital, examiners cam tot the ward and we were given set tasks working directly with out patients, we had a syllabus that had to be completed to ensure we knew what we were doing.,
    In Uni you do assignments without a patient being involved, you can get help from anywhere / anyone to do your assignments and some of these nurses would do better working in a supermarket.

    You need to work with human beings using the service to prove how good you are at your job, text book cases are a long distance away from reality.

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  • I count myself as being lucky that I started my training in 1965, gaining RSCN, SRN. A thorough practical and theoretical training within the hospital. Working from the bottom " sluice" as a raw recruit and finishing in the third year showing I could take charge and run a ward. I wonder if the students of today could do this, I think not. Now we are leaving the EU I believe we could go back to the tried and tested methods of training nurses as I believe it was the EU that insisted our trained staff had a degree.

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  • I trained under the apprenticeship model. My practice experience was exactly the same as today's students. I learned a lot of rote practice that I later learned to question. My management experience equated to making sure Sister was the first for her ciggy break. Healthcare delivery is radically different to the 80's. Education and preparation must meet service need; much of this is not in ward settings. I feel we need to reflect on the good and the not so good in relation to the good old days

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  • Oh how I pity the fools

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  • It is a shame that there is not at least 1 male. After all, men are around 50% of the population.
    However, it is not really fair to use the term 'fools' in any context.

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  • Maybe there are no men on the course. Women out number men in nursing so this is possible.

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