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Eastern students march against bursary axe plans

12 Jan 2016

Nurses and midwives from across the Eastern region have taken part in a march in protest over plans to axe bursaries for nursing students.

The Government’s proposals would see the vital grants replaced with student loans, leaving new nurses with large debts before they even start their careers.

Students from across our region, including groups from the University of Hertfordshire, University of Bedfordshire, Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Essex, joined the London protest which ended with a rally near Downing Street.

RCN Chief Executive Janet Davies told the crowds: “Student nurses and midwives are the profession’s future and their voices and concerns must, and should be listened to”.

The plan was unveiled in last year’s Comprehensive Spending Review and is expected to free up around £800 million a year in Government spending.

But the measure has been widely criticised by unions, including the RCN and Unison.

Neema Young, a student from Anglia Ruskin, said: “There were thousands marching and the atmosphere was phenomenal.

“I hope the leaders heard the cry so that other aspiring students can pursue the course without a big financial burden.”

Unless the Government reverses its decision, the move will mean that students starting their studies in September 2017 will have to take out loans to cover their tuition fees and living costs.

The strength of concern about the plans saw thousands of people join the march through central London from St Thomas’ Hospital to Whitehall.

Lisa Staples, from the University of Hertfordshire, said it was good to meet so many people wanting to save the bursary system.

The first year learning disability nursing student said: “My daughter is an LD community nurse. She was the first person in our family history to get a degree and without the bursary she would not have afforded the travelling expenses. 

“I love the work she achieves and so I have made the unusual commitment to try to follow in her footsteps.”

Lisa added: “Our future NHS needs an adequate number of nurses and they need to be caring, kind and passionate.

“Financial barriers will make it harder to recruit and train the right sort of person.”