Year-long nurse bursary extension not good enough, says union
RCN criticises the Welsh Government’s lack of commitment to long-term funding of undergraduate nursing programmes and urges indefinite bursaries
The student nurse bursary for people studying nursing in Wales has been extended for a year – but the RCN has criticised a lack of commitment to long-term funding.
Welsh minister for health and social care Eluned Morgan this week announced the bursary would be retained for the 2023-24 cohort of students.
Lack of commitment to ongoing funding could deter potential nursing students
The package is designed to support students with tuition fees and also their cost of living in return for their commitment to work in the NHS in Wales for two years post qualification.
But RCN Wales associate director of nursing employment relations Nicky Hughes said the lack of commitment to ongoing funding could deter people from studying nursing.
‘I am disappointed that yet again we have a single year extension to an essential funding stream for undergraduate nursing programmes,’ she said.
‘The funding of nurse education in Wales is essential to building a sustainable workforce and filling the significant vacancies for nurses across Wales. A bursary funding stream encourages and supports students from all socio-economic backgrounds to study in Wales.’
RCN Wales is calling on the Welsh Government to provide the student nursing bursary indefinitely.
During the bursary’s extension period, the Welsh Government will review whether the current financial package ‘remains attractive’.
Applications to nursing courses across the UK drops by 10%
Ms Morgan said in a statement: ‘We recognise that we need to consider if the current financial package remains attractive and so during this period of extension we will undertake a consultation exercise to establish the best and most appropriate way of continuing to support those who choose to study health care related programmes in Wales.’
The review will also look at whether the Welsh system offers comparable benefits with other countries.
The latest UCAS figures show there were 3,630 applications for nursing courses in Wales by January 2022, down from 4,090 in 2021. Overall, applications to nursing courses across the UK saw a 10% drop in 2022, with the RCN calling for an end to the financial burden nursing students face.
In England the student nurse bursary was scrapped in 2017 and replaced with a tuition fees and loans system.
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