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Reform of support for healthcare students in England

Published Tuesday, May 3, 2016

This note explains the proposed changes to funding for students on NHS funded courses in England, that lead to professional registration as nurses, midwives, or other allied health professionals as announced in the Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015. From September 2017 NHS bursaries which provide tuition fee funding, grants and living cost support, will be replaced by funding through the standard student support package of loans. The paper provides background to the proposals, data on nursing and midwifery students and gives reaction to the proposals.

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Currently students accepted on an NHS funded course in England that leads to professional registration as a nurse, midwife or other allied health professional may be eligible for an NHS Bursary to help with the costs of studying.

For new full-time students starting in 2015-16 the NHS Bursary consists of the following elements:

  • A non-means tested grant of £1,000 per year (pro-rata for part-time students)
  • A means tested bursary to help with living costs of up to:
    • £3,191 for students living away from home and in London
    • £2,643 for students living away from home and outside London
    • £2,207 for students living at home.
  • Other bursary elements such as extra week’s allowances for courses that run for longer than 30 weeks and 3 days each academic year, and practice placement expenses.

Students who qualify for a bursary will also have the costs of their tuition paid directly to their higher education institution by the NHS.  Healthcare students may also apply for a non-income assessed reduced rate maintenance loan from Student Finance England.

This briefing applies to the Bursary Scheme in place for eligible students studying in England.  Students ordinarily resident in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who are studying in England may be eligible for a bursary under this scheme.  Different schemes are in place for students studying in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Government proposals for reform

The Autumn Statement 2015 announced that the Government intended to replace NHS Bursaries with student loans for students starting courses in nursing, midwifery and allied health subjects.  It additionally said that the cap on the number of student places for these courses would be removed.

Under the proposals as they stand, from September 2017 new students on nursing, midwifery and allied health professions pre-registration courses in England, will take out maintenance and tuition loans, rather than getting an NHS Bursary.  The Government has stated that it expects the reform to provide up to 10,000 additional nursing and health professional training places over the course of the 2015 Parliament.

A consultation on the proposals was launched on 7 April and will close on 30 June 2016.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7436

Authors: David Foster; Paul Bolton; Susan Hubble

Topics: Higher education, Students

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