Changes to NHS Bursary and Cap Removal – My View

After spending the last 2 days listening to everyone on Facebook, Twitter and students within my faculty. I am unable to come to an opinion on the proposed changes to student bursary and the cap removal.

NHS Bursary Changes 

Should it really be free?
Upon undertaking my degree, I did not realise that the degree was funded by the NHS. It was only be chance that I found out about this while on an open day. I thought it were a great privilege that my degree was going to be funded meaning that I would have little debt upon degree completion.

However in reflection, I often ask myself “Should we get a free degree?” I understand that compared to many other degrees students within health sciences are often in lectures 9-5 everyday and often work long shifts on placement, for example my current placement does 13 hour long day shifts! However, compared to other degrees where students have 3 exams per module and have 9-5 lectures like us, is it really fair that they have to pay and we don’t?

Will moving to a loan benefit me financially?
In the short term while studying – Yes, the Council of Deans have released a table which shows 20 – 30% increases in peoples finances while studying. However it does mean that you will have to repay the degree upon completion, although it is only £5.25 a month. On top of expensive regulatory body and trade union fees this will work at around £379 per year, if we take for example a band 5 job which will pay around £1468 per month after tax this will mean quite a substantial loss. There has been some discussion around service rewards, for example if a graduate works for the NHS for a duration of time, because of the time and effort they have given back to the public sector; should their debt be wiped?

Surely there isn’t anyone who would of taken a health sciences degree because it were free?
I agree! And I hope this isn’t the case, however there is a high attrition rate for nurses around the first placement mark, there could be many reasons for this such as not feeling supported or students genuinely feeling that it isn’t for them. However, I do expect that there will be the few individuals who do not realise what the degree truly entails and will realise this around the first placement mark. I also expect that the proposed changes will increase lecture attendance, as many people will now feel more obliged to attend lectures if they are going to be paying for their degree.

Health Sciences students often get little break time and in their final year often do not finish until around September time due to the workload, is it fair that we can be given the same loan system as everyone else?
A very important point which has been raised as well, currently in our final year our maintenance loan is reduced in loan with other degrees. Even though we do not complete our degree until around September time meaning we have a winter graduation, I completely agree that the degree length time which is being funded needs to be reconsidered.

Because I’m now paying for my degree, will there be the opportunity to learn more clinical skills within university such as cannulation and IV’s?
I think that if students are beginning to pay for their degree, they will expect more clinical experiences and further skills which currently are not included by the NMC for students to graduate. I also believe that if students are paying for their degree, the whole issue around pay for health science degrees post graduation needs to be addressed. Also I believe that NHS trusts need to bring in further incentives to get the best students with the proposed cap changes.

Cap Removal

Will the removal of the cap on places mean that it is harder for me to get a placement?
Potentially yes, currently NHS trusts are struggling to find places to allocate student, the proposed 10’000 more student nurses will mean that it will be even harder to fill these spots.

I didn’t get in to Nursing at … University, will there be more of a chance for me to get a place?
I believe that this will be true, it is likely that more higher institutions will now start offering Nursing as a degree meaning there will be more competition for places and within league tables.

Will there be a decrease in quality of my lectures due to an influx in numbers?
I strongly believe that universities will not take more students than which they can facilitate for, I believe that university spots will become more competitive and there will be more institutions offering Nursing.

Things I’d like to see addressed

  • Currently travel and accommodation is reimbursed, how will this work under the new system?
  • How will the decrease in loan in the final year be addressed?
  • What additional financial opportunities will be available?
  • What is the possibility of having the debt wiped if there is a period of service dedicated to the NHS?
  • How will introduction of the loan reflect on education and pay post-graduation?
  • How will the increased demand on placements be addressed?
  • Will there be further postgraduate opportunities?
  • How will the protection of student supernumeracy be addressed?


I’d like to thank everyone for their feedback and contribution to the topic, the council of deans has posted some very useful information on the current proposed plans –

Many students are also using the hashtag #keepthebursary to voice their opinion on the proposed changes.



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