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#FundOurFuture Nurses

We're calling for a minimum of £1bn a year to be put back into nursing higher education.

What’s gone wrong with student funding in England?

Until recently, nursing students in England had their tuition fees paid for in full by the UK Government. Students also received a means-tested maintenance grant of up to £3,191.

Since this funding was axed by the Government in 2016, there has been a 30% drop in the number of applications to study nursing in England.
 
Not only do fewer people want to study nursing but there are nearly 900 fewer nurses due to start at university too.
 
Crucially, this is at a time when there are almost 40,000 registered nurse vacancies in England.
 
With the future supply of nurses under threat, the prospect of reducing the vacancy rate is unlikely.
 
Our members have told us that debt caused by a lack of financial support is putting them off continuing their studies. Many qualified staff say they wouldn’t have studied nursing had they had to take out such a big loan.

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Nursing students are unique. They must complete a minimum of 4,600 hours of theory and placement learning over the course of their degree and study for 45 weeks a year.

This is compared to an average bachelor’s degree, where a student typically undertakes 3,600 hours over the course of their degree and studies for 30 weeks a year.

Many nursing students are struggling financially because they don’t have time to work to support themselves like other students through part-time work. 

It’s even causing some students to quit their courses.

Mature students have been disproportionately affected too. Previously, nursing students represented a diverse range of backgrounds and ages but this has now changed and has resulted in a significant drop in applications from mature students.

The Government must look again at how it supports nursing students in England.
 
We’re calling for a minimum of £1bn a year back into the system. We’ve even produced fully-costed proposals for how this money could be used to attract more people to study nursing and support current students with their courses. 
 
Without action now, the number of nurse vacancies in England could rise to 48,000 in the next five years because there won’t be enough newly qualified staff to fill the gap.

We’ve put forward two options for Government to consider to provide better financial support for students and boost future supply. 
 
We believe our proposals would incentivise 50% more students to study nursing; provide more financial support for current students to ensure they don’t drop out, and help to fund continual professional development, so they stay on top of learning during their careers when they graduate.
 
We know the power that financial incentives have on attracting people to study nursing. The Scottish Government recently announced an increase to the student bursary to £10,000 by 2020-21. As a result, there was 9% boost in the number of students applying to nursing courses.

Earlier this year, the NHS Long Term Plan set out the vision for the NHS over the next ten years. The plan rightly recognises the role of nursing in meeting the health challenges of the future. However, it will not succeed without tackling the problems with nursing supply.
 
Put simply, there aren’t enough nurses for the plan to work and that’s why we need more student nurses.
 
The Comprehensive Spending Review later in 2019 is when Government departments are allocated funding that they can spend over the coming years. This is when the Government must allocate funding to the various parts of the health system, including making funding available to increase the NHS workforce, especially the number of nurses.
 
One way to do this is by investing at least £1bn into nursing higher education through better financial support for students as a way to attract, retain and grow the number students.
 
It takes at least three years to educate a registered nurse. Any delays to this investment will have knock-on effects in the years to come when the workforce gap will have grown further.

RCN students at Westminster

Students speak out

Nursing students descended on Westminster to convince MPs that they should increase funding for nursing higher education in England.

Read more
39,147 Nursing vacancies in England
48,000 Estimated nurse vacancies in England by 2023
885 Fewer nurses due to start at university