Student Nurses just aren’t like other students, and it is astounding to me that politicians and universities continue to argue that it is a good thing that they are now asked to foot the bill for their own training, just as every other degree student does. Let me explain just how different SNs are. I have been working with 2 first year Mental Health Nursing students for the last few weeks. Both are studying at a university 27 miles from my workplace, and whilst one of them is fortunate to drive, making the journey 1 hour long, the other does not and is therefore catching 3 buses to get to placement, taking 2.5 hours per journey and costing £9 per day (that’s £45 per week). She has had to leave home at 6am, work a full 8 hour day, and doesn’t return until almost 8pm. They will both be expected to make this kind of commitment, travelling to placements spread across three counties, for 23 weeks of the year. FOR FREE!
Well, that’s the real kick in the teeth, it isn’t even for free, because the reality of the situation is that they are paying for the privilege. They are taking out student loans which allow them to pay over £9,000 per year tuition fees as well as maintenance loans which cover living costs. So, if you ask me, these really are two exceptional individuals, willingly giving far more in time, energy, and effort than students on any other degree course. Which is why it is just astounding that politicians and universities are continuing to hold onto their claim that they are “improving” the situation for Student Nurses by removing the bursary, that they are “increasing” the numbers of students entering nursing when all available figures prove that the removal of the bursary has had exactly the opposite effect.
Fund Our Future is calling for £1 billion to be invested into student nursing, so that more amazing, committed students like these 2 can join our workforce. When you consider everything that we expect our Student Nurses to give, it seems like the very least we can give back to them.