Slash and Burn recruitment

Kerry Stott II  13 NOV 2016

Nurse training funding is being cut from August 2017. So, in a nutshell, there are no more grants for student nurses. What does this mean?

Under the current system the fees the nursing university course are subsidised by a non repayable grant from the government. Students can get access to loans from the Student Loan Company (SLC) for up to £3,263 in London, and £2,324 outside of London. This would leave a debt of £9,789 or £6,972 at the end of your studying depending on where you are learning. Either way, coming out of a degree course with £6k+ debt leaves most people fearful.

The thing is that nursing degrees are more than just ‘full time.’ Students spend 50% of their time on clinical placement, up 37.5 hours per week or pro rata. On top of that they still have to study for 8 academic submissions per year, so all studying must be done outside that work time. This leaves little time to have a part time job to boost self-funding students, let alone family time.

Under the new rules there will be no more grants available.  The cost of the course comes directly from the student's pocket just like every other course in the UK. This is suggested to ‘level the playing field.’ This is not really the case. Due to hours that student nurses have to put in, there is a lot less time to fund the degree due to the course commitments and short 6 week holiday per year. We don’t have the time.

According to the Government (2016) this is negated by the ability to get a higher loan £12,054 in London or £9,250 outside of London. This would now leave you with a debt of £36,162 or £27,750 respectively. However, a lot of nursing students are mature students with families and commitments and this amount of debt may not be workable.

What does all of this mean? In real terms it means that the public debt of placing a student nurse through their training now becomes a private debt of that individual. The SLC does not take any money back until you start earning over £21k and at that starting pay it is only £5.50 per month which mean that you will be repaying £30k debt for a really long time.

From an entirely personal perspective, if nursing had been funded this way when I did my training I would never have been able to do it, I was a mature student with commitments. I have lost count of the amount of patients whose lives I have saved, student nurses and doctors I have taught and inspired. All of this would never have existed had the grant system not been in place.

Since there are so many mature student nurses who make up the intake numbers that is a huge gamble to risk. I can almost understand why the government has made the changes, although I whole heartedly disagree, I suspect that it will only take a year or two of vastly decreased numbers before they change their tune, but that does not change anything as it stands.
Rutter, J. (2015). Childcare Costs Survey 2015.
Department of Health (2016). Reforming Healthcare Education Funding: Creating a Sustainable Workforce.
Council of Deans (2016). The 2015 Spending Review Changes to Nursing, Midwifery and AHP Education - Background Information for Students.