02 December 2015

Loss of student nurse bursaries divides opinion on #NurChat

It was announced last week that student nurse bursaries are to cease and that student nurses will have to seek loans to pay for their pre-registration study. The move caused widespread upset in the nursing community as demonstrated by an online petition to keep student nurse bursaries that reached over 135,000 signatures in just a few days.

While the initial reaction from many nurses appeared to be shock, disbelief and anger, opinions on both sides of the move were shared when student nurses, qualified nurses and nursing leaders took to Twitter to during a #NurChat discussion on 27th November.

Those not in favour of losing student nurse bursaries felt it would have a negative effect by discouraging future applicants and saddling those that do qualify with years of debt repayments.

@HoughtonVal as a lecturer I see students already struggle financially... Those with families... Cannae see positives #NurChat

@PUNC153theresa Also the pay scale for us as nurses will mean many years of debt.  That surely will affect the numbers of student nurses? #nurchat

Some of the positives to the scheme include improved student nurse wellbeing and fewer nurses feeling burnt out through a reduced need to supplement income with extra work, plus more chance of being accepted onto a course if the promised 10,000 extra student nurses places are made available.

@daz4shaw86 I’d rather have a little bit more£ now an pay back when I have it! The extra cash would mean a couple of less shifts to do at wkends #nurchat

@PUNC_lanstis i would still have gone into nursing even if i had a loan to repay, and i am a very mature student. #punc15 #NurChat

Concerns about the particulars of future student nurse funding are still raw and exact details are largely still unknown. For instance, the impact of a student loan upon an individual’s credit rating, the ability to get future credit such as a mortgage and the length of time to repay a loan when pay rises for NHS nurses are capped for the foreseeable future. The concept of ‘forgivable’ loans that could see some students able to negotiate a deal with their employer to repay their loan is still under discussion, but even access to a loan for those benefits is as yet unknown.

The possibility of extending the course to 4 years to allow for more spare time for students was suggestion for allowing students time to earn extra money during their course, however it’s unclear if this will be considered.

The full transcript of this discussion on student nurse bursaries can be found here.