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Tuition fees announcement this autumn, says Milton


Health minister Anne Milton has revealed that the Department of Health is in talks with the Treasury about how to fund university tuition fees for nurses, and plans to make an announcement on the subject in the autumn.

Taking questions after her speech to the Royal College of Nursing annual congress this week, Ms Milton was asked whether the NHS would pay fees for students, and whether universities would be reimbursed for the full sum they plan to charge.

The minister told nurses she “would love” and is trying “desperately” to reach the stage where an announcement could be made on higher education funding for nurses.

“I’m afraid I can’t yet,” she said. “But we have been looking at it and also discussing it with the Treasury… I wish I could tell you what we’re doing and I can see your frustration, but I can’t tell you.”

She added: “We will come forward I think in September sometime in the autumn with plans for funding.”

Ms Milton acknowledged students’ concerns over how they would pay their tuition fees, saying that £9,000 a year “is a very big chunk of money to find up front”, but added that it remains to be seen whether all universities proposing maximum fees will get approval.

She also told delegates that the average age of entry into nursing is now 27, “which is quite old”. The minister emphasised the need to have “very flexible routes into nursing” as nurses now enter profession from a variety of employment and academic backgrounds.


Readers' comments (6)

  • How is 27 quite old?!?! That's nothing in comparison to the 40+ mature students on many nursing courses. But even so with both those ages the NHS is getting between 20 - 40 years service due to new rules coming in about retirement. With degree level now mandatory and it seems tuition fees possible, we won't have any new nurses coming into the profession on the current banding salaries. What a joke.

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  • I'm 31 and started on the advanced diploma last year - I'm quite disgusted at the suggestion that I'm 'quite old' for nursing as I believe it's my age that makes me suitable for nursing in the first place - my maturity has given me confidence, empathy and a stronger ability to relate to people, all of which are key skills for a nurse. I cannot possibly imagine being a strong enough person for this at 17/18 - I would have been, quite frankly, useless.

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  • I wouldn't worry too much about what ms. Milton says, she quite clearly hasn't got a clue, just look at her comments re. Lansley!!!! It is such a shame she is in the position she is in.

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  • We have to be over 45 to know stuff... hmm some teenagers have experienced more than they should, I think its best they avoid the ageist arguments.

    Yes degree level education is good, some of us get 50:50 academic:clinical practice from year 1 on very good placements.

    But we knew scrapping diploma level meant non-means tested and higher bursary would go, with increasing tuition fees + cuts, all uni have to charge it to make courses viable, govt neglected to mention whether or not they'd (NHS) pay fees like current system (both degree + dip).

    Everyone wants well educated, practical, competent and confident nurses to deliver safe + effective patient care. Cutting resources will affect patients + staff. High quality healthcare + training costs (a similar argument used by finance sector, but we care more + get treated worse). The level of remuneration vs level of education, continual development, accountability + responsibility of lives is very poor compared to a number of other professions. All those transferable skills they talk about, is not being recognized. Incentives + treatment are also low.

    Also was Ms Milton's reference about older people coming into the profession a hint that we've got more money stashed away to pay our own way, be more flexible, forgetting that some have families to care for + more bills to pay. Would people expect to work a 2nd or even a 3rd job on top of full time hours just to make ends meet, and also study/train more just to keep their jobs.

    The government is well aware of this, they are 'listening' but I wonder of they're hearing our concerns and willing to make significant changes. Pause enough for elections and we'll see.

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  • Also with regards to course fees + different academic backgrounds.
    Entering (any) course with equal or higher qualifications, unless the tuition fees are funded, the fee-payer (student) is expected to pay higher fees than people entering with lower level qualifications.
    Just something extra to consider before career changes. It's possibly why more (professional) people consider teaching after attaining their first (batchelors) degree.

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  • I am 31 tomorrow and am halfway through the diploma pathway of nursing. I am quite offended at being considered "quite old" for entry into nursing.

    Had I started my training at 17/18 yrs of age, I can almost certainly say I would have dropped out. I believe that my life experiences have made me the confident person that I am now and is why I have done as well as I have in my training.

    I believe that the loss of the diploma pathway for nursing will have major consequences in years to come. Surely it is better to have caring, practical nurses than it is to have academic nurses? I agree we need to be equipped with knowledge and skills to do our job, but it is the practical side of our training that makes us competent nurses.

    Couple that with the possible (and likely) introduction of tuition fees and you are looking at a recruitment crisis in the future as people will not be able to afford to pay these fees.

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