Students at the University of Manchester are to launch a campaign calling for improved funding for undergraduate nurses and midwives, after a survey found 91% reported their mental health or academic work had suffered as a result of financial concerns.
The student union survey at University of Manchester – which had 365 responses from students and recent graduates of nursing and midwifery courses – revealed that money problems during their studies meant nearly half had considered dropping out of university.
“Approaching the final year of our midwifery degree it seemed so unjust that our maintenance loan would be cut by around a third”
The majority of students – 85% – had resorted to alternative sources of funding outside of their bursaries and loans during their studies, with 65% requiring a part-time job in addition to their 37.5 hour week of study and placement.
Meanwhile, the survey – which included mainly second year students – found that eight respondents said they had been forced to use food banks at least once.
In addition, the survey noted pay day loans had been used in 15 cases, and two students said they had sold possessions to fund their living costs.
Students behind the campaign, called Fairer Funding for Student Nurses and Midwives, claim the loan system in England disadvantages student nurses and midwives in their final year because it takes them longer to complete their course than those studying other subjects.
They claim the system run by Student Finance England – which provides maintenance loans for all undergraduates in England – is unfair because it reduces the loan money in a student’s final year on the basis they will finish their course in June and move straight into paid work.
“Hopefully these survey findings can help influence positive changes…easing the financial burden for future cohorts”
However, nurses and midwives usually have a longer academic year than other students, meaning they are left with no money to cover living costs for the final summer months of their degree, according to those behind the campaign.
They are calling for the government to acknowledge the funding gap currently being faced by student nurses and midwives in their third year and to stop the reduction of the maintenance loan in this final year.
Campaigners also want to see grants and bursaries for student nurses and midwives boosted to reflect the length and intensity of the course.
Victoria Arthur, campaign co-founder and midwifery student representative at Manchester University, said: “Approaching the final year of our midwifery degree it seemed so unjust that our maintenance loan would be cut by around a third in the very year that we were required to work more hours than ever before at placement and University.”
Zoe Samuel, another campaign co-founder and midwifery student representative, added: “Hopefully these survey findings can help influence positive changes in the funding for such students, potentially easing the financial burden for future cohorts.”