Brookes and local NHS Trusts encourage applications to nursing, midwifery and allied health professional courses

Tuesday, 07 February 2017

Student nurse

Following the national change in funding for degrees in nursing, midwifery and allied health professions (AHP), UCAS has reported a 17% drop in applications by students in England to these courses compared to last year.

Nursing applications have been particularly affected, with a 23% drop in applications from students in England.  Oxford Brookes University is in line with this national trend.

Early indications suggest that this decline in applications is at least partly as a result of misunderstandings regarding student loans and this is something Oxford Brookes is seeking to address.

We hear from so many of our graduates about how rewarding a career in health care is and the satisfaction they gain from such important professions. All of us know what a tremendous difference our NHS makes every single day and it’s therefore important that we help to bust any myths about the changes to funding of health degrees.

Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University

As recognised by the Council of Deans of Health in their comprehensive online advice, some prospective students do worry about whether university is affordable. It’s important to know that you don’t have to pay money upfront: tuition and living cost loans work like a tax on earnings above a certain amount, not like a commercial loan or a payday loan. 

As part of this, prospective students should be aware that: 

  • Under the current rules, you only start paying back the loans when you earn above £21k, and pay 9% of any income above £21k. If your income drops below the threshold, you stop having to repay the loan. 
  • To give you an idea of what that means in practice, under current rules if you started on a Band 5 salary in the NHS of £21.7k you would repay £5.25 per month (9% of £700/12). You pay back the loans gradually from your pay packet – it’s done automatically so you don’t have to worry about missing repayments.
  • Under the student support system, students are eligible for a range of means-tested loans, including a specific loan designed to support students on courses that have a longer than average student year. There are also special allowances, for example for childcare, adult dependents and parents’ learning. These special allowances are grants not loans, so you don’t have to repay them. Oxford Brookes also runs its own bursary scheme.
  • When you make an application to the Student Loans Company the tuition fees are transferred to the university automatically – you don’t have to get involved with that process. 

Entry level salaries for graduates of these courses also compare favourably with other sectors.

Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University said: “Oxford Brookes University has a strong reputation for its nursing, midwifery and AHP degree programmes and is proud to provide a significant proportion of the region's nursing, midwifery and allied health professional staff. 

“Over the last five years alone, Oxford Brookes had produced almost 1,800 graduates in these subject areas and there is a consistent historic trend showing that three out of four nurses who study at Oxford Brookes go on to work in the local community.

“The University welcomed the substantial funding reform. This increases the amount of funding support available to student nurses, midwives and AHPs and should not be viewed as a barrier to entry. 

“First time undergraduates’ fees are automatically paid by a Student Loans Company loan and it is only on the April following a student’s graduation that repayments of this loan begin.

“Based on the current repayment terms, a graduate on the usual starting salary for a nurse or allied health professional, would expect to pay £5.25 per month in student loan repayments.

“We hear from so many of our graduates about how rewarding a career in health care is and the satisfaction they gain from such important professions. All of us know what a tremendous difference our NHS makes every single day and it’s therefore important that we help to bust any myths about the changes to funding of health degrees.”

Professor Catherine Stoddart, Chief Nurse at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our Brookes nursing, midwifery and allied health professional students play a vital role in supporting our hospitals. We are committed to providing many opportunities for personal and career development, including initiatives to help them secure employment with the Trust upon graduation”.

Ros Alstead OBE, a nurse and the Director of Nursing and Clinical Standards at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Nursing is a great career and provides plenty of opportunities to develop a very wide range of skills, and work in many different settings right from the very beginning. We work closely with Oxford Brookes, offering student nurses placements in everything ranging from mental health in-patient wards to offering care in people’s own homes.”

“I would encourage anyone considering nursing as a career to go for it, as it is such an interesting and fulfilling job which can really take you places.”

Current mature Oxford Brookes adult nursing student, Christine Sennett, says, “I had wanted to work in a health care profession for a number of years. I had been volunteering on an elderly medicine ward at my local hospital, and was finding it more rewarding than my business career.

“I was really happy to be accepted by Oxford Brookes for the Adult Nursing course. I have enjoyed every aspect of the course. For the first time in my life, I can make a difference in someone's life and learn something interesting every day.”

Further information on health subjects being taught at Oxford Brookes can be found on the University’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences webpages.