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Labour tables motion to challenge nursing bursary axe

The Labour party is seeking to force MPs to take part in a vote following anger at the news that bursaries for postgraduate nursing students are to be scrapped.
Protestors holding 'Save NHS bursary' sign

The Labour party is seeking to force MPs to take part in a vote following anger at the news that bursaries for postgraduate nursing students are to be scrapped.

Labour made the announcement after the government confirmed it is pressing ahead with a decision to make all postgraduates take out a loan if they cannot afford to fund their own tuition. It wants to see the decision reversed.

The new regulation will mirror the one already in place since August 2017, which has seen undergraduates on nursing, midwifery and allied health professional courses obtain financial aid from the Student Loans Company.

Debt averse

The news has angered many who say the profile of postgraduate students being more mature and likely to have young children means they are more ‘debt averse’ than other students.

'The decision to scrap

The Labour party is seeking to force MPs to take part in a vote following anger at the news that bursaries for postgraduate nursing students are to be scrapped.


Picture: Barney Newman

Labour made the announcement after the government confirmed it is pressing ahead with a decision to make all postgraduates take out a loan if they cannot afford to fund their own tuition. It wants to see the decision reversed.

The new regulation will mirror the one already in place since August 2017, which has seen undergraduates on nursing, midwifery and allied health professional courses obtain financial aid from the Student Loans Company.

Debt averse

The news has angered many who say the profile of postgraduate students being more mature and likely to have young children means they are more ‘debt averse’ than other students.

'The decision to scrap NHS bursaries has already proved to be regressive and short-sighted'

Angela Rayner, Labour shadow education secretary

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner highlighted a recent Department for Education equality analysis, which acknowledges that women, people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, and those from low income households, are likely to be most affected by the scrapping of postgraduate bursaries.

She confirmed a Labour government would reverse both the policy on bursaries, and the implementation of tuition fees – which can be as high as £9,250 per year.

Ms Rayner said: ‘The decision to scrap NHS bursaries has already proved to be regressive and short-sighted, contributing to a recruitment crisis in our NHS.

‘Now we have further proof that this government is entrenching inequality and disadvantage.'

Recent Universities and Colleges Admissions Services data revealed last year that 13,025 people age 21 and above were accepted onto nursing courses in England compared with 14,250 in 2016 – a fall of 1,225 mature students.

Without full scrutiny

A Labour spokesperson told Nursing Standard the government had introduced the postgraduate changes using a piece of legislation designed to fast-track new regulations, without the full scrutiny of the House of Commons.

Labour has put a type of parliamentary motion known as a ‘prayer’ before the House of Commons, dated 6 February, requesting the legislation be annulled, which MPs are able to sign in support of.

If it gets enough signatures within the 40-day deadline, the party intends to call for a debate and vote on annulling the legislation.

The spokesperson added: ‘The more MPs who sign the ‘prayer’ the better the chances of getting a full debate, so your readers can of course ask their own constituency MP if they have signed.’

On 19 February, prime minister Theresa May announced an independent review of the tuition fees system after suggesting some university courses were not value for money.

She also admitted UK students faced ‘one of the most expensive systems of university tuition in the world’.


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