Response to proposed changes to NHS student funding

Thursday, 26 November 2015

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The Government yesterday announced that students studying nursing, midwifery and allied health subjects from September 2017 will be moved from NHS bursaries to the standard student support system, with the details being subject to consultation.

In response to the announcement, Professor June Girvin, Pro Vice Chancellor and Dean of Oxford Brookes’ Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, said:  

“Oxford Brookes University has a strong reputation for its nursing and allied health professional (AHP) degree programmes and is proud to provide a significant proportion of the region's nursing and allied health professional staff. 

“The University welcomes the substantial funding reform in moving from grants to loans. We note that early figures suggest that this change would increase the amount of funding support available to student nurses and AHPs, and may increase the number of aspiring nurses and AHPs accessing higher education. 

“However, there may be consequences that we would be keen to mitigate as detail is worked through. For example, the impact upon Widening Participation, mature students, and those with previous degree qualifications seeking a career change. 

“Such fundamental change will need stable transition arrangements and close partnership working with the NHS to ensure that placement arrangements continue to be well supported and workforce needs met.  Our strong working relationships with NHS partners mean that we can face these changes together with confidence and the ability to monitor progress closely.”

Professor Dame Jessica Corner, Chair of the Council of Deans of Health, has also commented on the announcement:

“We have a workforce crisis in health and social care and we’re still educating fewer students than the NHS needs. We recognise that this has been a difficult decision for the government but are pleased that the government has found a way forward.

“Carefully implemented, this should allow universities in partnership with the NHS to increase the number of training places and also improve day to day financial support for students while they are studying.

“The plan means that students will have access to more day to day maintenance support through the loans system and recognises that these disciplines are higher cost, science-based subjects.”

The Council of Deans of Health is the representative voice of the UK university health faculties engaged in education and research for nursing, midwifery and the allied health professions.

Professor Steve West, Chair of Universities UK’s Health Education and Research Policy Network, added:

“We support increasing health professional student numbers and will work with Government and the NHS to secure the sustainable funding system that ensures a high quality future health workforce.

“Success will depend on getting the details right. Areas that need to be addressed include mature student participation, issues for professions that struggle with student recruitment and the importance of placement funding and capacity.

“We now urge a commitment from all departments to manage a stable transition to the new system.”

The Council of Deans of Health have produced a table demonstrating how the two financial systems compare based on latest information which can be downloaded as a PDF.

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