Halt 'high risk' student bursary proposals in light of Brexit, RCN urges

College responds to government consultation on funding

Government proposals to scrap bursaries for nursing students must be suspended immediately in light of the Brexit vote, the RCN has urged.

The college accused the government of taking an an unprecedented gamble in changing student funding arrangements at a time when the supply of future nurses is in jeopardy.

It added that the UK’s vote to leave the European Union placed ‘additional uncertainty’ on the profession.

The Department of Health said moving to a tuition fees and loans system will fund up to 10,000 more training places by 2020 and provide students with about 25% more financial support.

But in response to a government consultation on the proposals, which closes today, the RCN urged the government to halt the ‘high risk’ plans.

'Profound doubt'

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: ‘There has been huge uncertainty and profound doubt about how these proposals would maintain the supply of nurses we have now, let alone deliver the increases we need in the future.

‘The additional uncertainty caused by moves to leave the EU means that risks have never been higher, and we urge the government to suspend the plans immediately.

‘For some years the NHS has been over-reliant on nurses from overseas, meaning that a move to train enough nurses here in the UK is long overdue. However, there is no evidence the proposed moves will help – indeed, they are likely to worsen a situation that is already unsustainable.'

Nurses' views

 An RCN survey of more than 17,000 nurses revealed that two thirds would not have joined the profession had the bursary not been available.

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • 89% of respondents either disagree or strongly disagree with the government’s plans.
  • 88% believe scrapping the bursary would lead to a fall in the number of future nursing students.
  • 79% believe it would have a negative impact on patient care.
  • 68% had to find additional paid work to support themselves financially during training.


Further information:

Changing how health care education is funded

RCN congress unanimous on 'appalling' bursary decision

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