While the average debt is just over £7,000, some students are in the red by more than £25,000, according to a Unison survey of 650 students.
More than two-thirds of respondents had been forced to take on part-time work to make ends meet. ‘It cannot be right that 38% of students work more than 53 hours a week and yet debt is still rising,’ said Gail Adams, Unison’s head of nursing. ‘It will take years to clear these crushing debts.’
She said that paying nursing students a salary for their ward work would be fairer than the current bursary system. Ms Adams said the bursary ‘works out to just £3.14 an hour for diploma students outside London, which amounts to very cheap labour and reeks of exploitation’.