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Nursing students with families stand to lose most if bursary scrapped, warns NUS

Nursing students with families will be hit hardest in pocket under government's proposals to scrap the bursary
Mother and child

Nursing students with children could lose more than £100 a month under government plans to reform the healthcare education funding system.

The National Union of Students (NUS) said its analysis shows nursing students with children are disproportionately affected under the new arrangements for NHS bursaries.

This runs contrary to the government’s claim that higher loans will equate to more income for healthcare students.

‘It doesn’t, because of the way student support and benefits interact,’ says the NUS response to the Department of Health (DH) consultation on the changes. ‘Obviously not all students have children but a very sizable proportion of NHS students - especially in nursing/midwifery - do.’

One example given by the NUS showed a loss of £1,326.63 to the yearly income of a lone student parent with a toddler, after the government's planned reforms.

'Sexist and inequitable' system

King’s

Mother and child

Nursing students with children could lose more than £100 a month under government plans to reform the healthcare education funding system.

The National Union of Students (NUS) said its analysis shows nursing students with children are disproportionately affected under the new arrangements for NHS bursaries.

This runs contrary to the government’s claim that higher loans will equate to more income for healthcare students.

‘It doesn’t, because of the way student support and benefits interact,’ says the NUS response to the Department of Health (DH) consultation on the changes.
 
‘Obviously not all students have children but a very sizable proportion of NHS students - especially in nursing/midwifery - do.’

One example given by the NUS showed a loss of £1,326.63 to the yearly income of a lone student parent with a toddler, after the government's planned reforms.

'Sexist and inequitable' system

King’s College London (KCL) Nursing and Midwifery Society president Anthony Johnson said inequity was being built into the system and was bad enough already.

‘It is not just unfair but it is affecting retention on courses,’ said Mr Johnson, adding he knows of around ten nursing student parents who had dropped out of degree courses.

‘The average age of a nursing student is 29 and is significantly higher for midwives: statistically speaking, these students are more likely to be parents.

‘It is not surprising parents will be affected [by the cuts] considering the extra outgoings they have and trying to study on top of that.'

Loss of child dependants' allowance problematic

The NUS also argued that the DH ‘appears to underestimate’ the impact of plans to scrap the child dependants’ allowance.

At present the NHS Bursary Scheme pays £2,448 per year for the first child and £549 for any subsequent children. 

The NUS said the loss of this grant means increased maintenance loans will not have as much value as the government claims.

‘[DH] has made no attempt that we know of to model the impact of the changes on students with children or disabled students who claim benefits.’

The NUS also criticised the government's 'inadequate' consultation on the proposals, branding it 'deeply flawed' due to a lack of prior consultation with students, their representatives or healthcare professional bodies.

In a Commons debate earlier this week, health minister Ben Gummer told MPs the government would give ‘the best possible assistance’ to mature students who want to become nurses.

A DH spokesperson said: 'We need more home-grown nurses in the NHS because they do an amazing job caring for patients, but currently two thirds of people who apply to become a nurse are not accepted for training.

'Our plans mean up to 10,000 more training places by the end of this parliament, with student nurses getting around 25% more financial support while they study.'

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