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'Replacing bursaries with loans would not have put me off my nurse training'


We hear from a mature student nurse who believes that losing the student nurse bursary is not going to reduce nurse recruitment

Hello my name is Helen, I am a mature student and I live in one of the most deprived areas of the UK.

I am exactly the type of student that many are now fearing would be deterred from entering the nursing profession under new funding rules.

Why? Because I am older and have responsibilities as a mother and a carer and because on the face of it I come from ‘a lower social class’. A term that suggests I am of lower social standing than everybody else.

I am not ‘in favour’ of the proposed changes to nurse education. In a perfect world all education would be free at point of entry.

But I have to ask, as nurses are we really a special case?

“As nurses are we really a special case?”

My friend is a teacher, she works longer hours than any nurse I know, she receives around the same pay as a band 5 nurse, and she had to go out on placements as a student and now pays a small sum of money every month to the student loans company for the pleasure.

Under new rules, student nurses are going to be in a similar situation to my friend, whose route into education consisted of a 3 year undergraduate degree and 1 year post graduate studies.

”At graduation nurses are going to leave university with a debt of around £55k”

At graduation nurses are going to leave university with a debt of around £55k. As a band 5 nurse, this will mean that they pay back around £27 per month. They will also receive an education that they will be able to expect much more from as direct consumers.

They will also receive around a 25% increase in maintenance monies, actual ”cash in hand”, which may perhaps reduce some people’s need to work part time on top of their course commitments.

”Is £5.50 per week out of potential earnings really asking too much of nurses?”

Is £5.50 per week out of potential earnings really asking too much of nurses?

As a mature student, the one thing that I have learnt is that debt is part of life. It is an unfortunate cold fact that we live in a consumerist society that is driven by market forces.

It is probably true that we pay more than £5.50 per week for satellite channels and many things that actually we don’t need, so why not pay it for our education?

In addition, the new changes will potentially bring many more new nurses into the profession who have for many years been turned away due to caps on numbers and will divert monies that have previously been used for training directly to patient care.

Surely, in the context of efficiency drives and in an age of austerity, the more cash that goes to the people we care for so much the better.

These changes would not put me off from entering the profession, of course graduating with debt is something that is not appealing to me, but paying £5.50 per week for a good education is perhaps not so bad.

Read more on this story:

Osborne has pledged more money for the NHS, but at what cost?

Chancellor confirms nurse education funding reform



Readers' comments (23)

  • bill whitehead

    I can only agree with everything that has been said above. This includes the belief that all education should be paid for from general taxation. However, as the author says the student loans system should not deter anyone from taking up the opportunities that these valuable and life changing courses bring. We need more nurses and AHPs and anything which will permit placement providers and universities to provide this opportunity to more of the large numbers of applicants for these courses will be welcome. This is good for the individuals taking this educational journey and for the wider society which needs more AHPs and nurses to care for the growing need for health care workers.

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  • I also agree with what the author is saying, to minority group of people see the degree as access to 'high flying' graduate jobs in London and across the world, they have no intentions to become a nurse. The changes will attract those who have the passion and drive to become excellent nurses.

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  • Will students paying for their education be willing to staff the clinical areas?

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  • Yes I agree it wouldn't put me off but would make life harder.
    I disagree with the comparison with teachers as they get a free £30,000 non taxable lump sum for studying nursing with the chance to get £25,000 for each year they study.

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  • I don't agree with much of what has been written.. I am mature 3 rd yr student about to qualify in the knowledge I wont have thousands of pounds worth of debt on a not so great starting salary! I think it will discourage student in the future from taking up nursing as if they have to pay for the tuition fees they are going to go for courses such as law which has better rewards when applying for jobs!!

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  • How on earth you can compare this to teaching, I have no idea!

    Take a look at some of the incentives for doing a PGCE -

    If thy are worried about people from different backgrounds, they could top up bursaries with loans. At the moment, they cap the amount of money that can be borrowed for maintenance loans.

    Does it also really help people from poorer backgrounds to then saddle them with £30k plus debt.

    You seem to forget that student nurses also work full-time in placement for half of the course. Yes, it is supposed to be supernumerary, but student nurses are pretty much used as free labour. This proposes that students should pay to work?

    We are lucky in that it doesn't directly affect current students. However, we will be mentoring students that will be in a far worse fiscal situation. I'm sure that patient care will be affected due to the increased stress of future nurses because of money worries.

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  • Comparison with teachers was made, as like nurses, teachers work long hours in the public sector, for a similiar wage at qualification.

    As stated in the article, I am not in favour of tuition fees, or changes to funding. I was simply making the point that as a mature student with children and caring responsibilities, changes to funding would not have put me off from entering the profession. In addition to that, I also beleive that repayments of £5.50 per week, and I know that for me, would be for the rest of my working life, is not so bad.

    I am also quite sure that leaving university with any accrued debt is unappealing to any student from any academic programme, but unfortunately it is,and has been a fact of life for most students since the late 1990s.

    When tuition fees were first introduced, and again, when they were increased to £9K a year, many said that people would be put off from going to university. However, this proved not to be the case, as we now have record numbers of students enrolled in many different undergraduate programmes and I beleive that this will be the same for nursing programmes.

    Of course, in a perfect world, student loans would not be introduced for allied health professioanls.

    I am impressed by the way pre-registration nursing students have moblized and come together on this issue, social media is awash with resistance and the response to the online petiton is both amazing and unsuprising, given how passionate we are about our future careers.

    For the sake of all allied health professionals I hope to see further debate on this issue and hopefully a u-turn by George Osbourne.

    But, if we don't see a change in policy, I also hope that it will not put future students, who like me have responsibilities, but life experience to share, off from entering a truly wonderful and rewarding career.

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  • What the OP is not getting is that as nursing students have to work full time hours unlike students from most other degrees. No way would I have studied nursing if I had to pay back huge amounts of money. And for people saying this will encourage more passionate people to enter nursing, it wont, it will mostly attract younger students from more well off backgrounds.

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  • I can absolutely see what you're saying here and commend the fact that you wouldn't let it put you off. I recently qualified and was so thankful for the lack of tuition fees and the bursary as I already have a degree and therefore am ineligible for any further loans of any kind. I'm currently paying back my loan from my previous degree at the moment which amounts to around £80-100 a month depending on my unsocial hours pay and bearing mind I get the highest level of London waiting. It's would be great if those change led to more people training as nurses although I still question where all the mentors and tutors will come from at short notice to deal with the influx. However, I do worry it will put people who are like me and have used up all there borrowing previously. If these rules were in place there is no possible way I could ever have become a nurse.

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  • I don't agree with what has been written I was a mature student trying to persue my chosen carer to become a registered nurse unfortunately I had to abandon my studies due to the financial hardship I was experiencing. Having given up full time work to start my studies and having a mortgage to pay raising a family and trying to serve on the NHS bursary and also working part time took its toll on my health. They should be trying to support students nurses more to complete their training so they can try and bridge the increasing shortage of Nurses that are so needed on the hospital wards and other services.

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