Press release

MillionPlus comment on public backing for loan forgiveness for nurses

05 Mar 2024

MillionPlus, the Association for Modern Universities, has today commented (5 March) on polling by YouGov which shows overwhelming public backing for a fee loan forgiveness scheme for nurses.

In total, three quarters (76%) of the public backed the measure in polling conducted by YouGov ahead of Wednesday’s budget. Support for the policy was shown by all age groups, with those 65+ most in favour (78%). The scheme received majority support from the voters of all three main parties (Con, 73%, Lab, 89%, Lib Dem, 79%).

The polling follows the publication last week of a joint letter to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt from MillionPlus and the Royal College of Nursing, calling for the introduction of loan forgiveness as one solution to the longstanding shortage of nurses across the NHS.

Rachel Hewitt, Chief Executive of MillionPlus, said:

“That a fee loan forgiveness scheme for nurses who choose to work and remain in the NHS has such overwhelming backing from the country is unsurprising and vindicates a long-held MillionPlus position. The cost to the Treasury pales in comparison to the long-term economic and social benefits brought about through improved staff retention and should be viewed in Westminster in the same way that this polling suggests the people of Britain do: as a vital investment in Britain’s future. Nurse educators, nurse leaders and now the public are speaking as one – the Chancellor must heed them.”


Notes to editors
Following the substantial changes in higher education fees and funding announced by the Department for Education in 2023-24, MillionPlus, the Association for Modern Universities, commissioned London Economics to update the cost of implementing a tuition fee loan forgiveness scheme, based on current 2023-24 prices.


  1. Figures are based on the 2023-24 cohort of first-year English domiciled students starting full-time nursing degrees (22,470 total).
  2. Analysis focuses on adult, children's, mental health, and learning disabilities nursing. It excludes other specialist nursing subjects targeted at registered nurses.
  3. Modelling assumes tuition fee loan forgiveness for graduates working in the public sector post-graduation:
  • 50% loan balance forgiven after 5 years in the NHS.
  • 100% loan balance forgiven after 10 years in the NHS.
  • No forgiveness for graduates not working in the NHS for fewer than 5 years.

Key Findings:

  1. The estimated additional Exchequer spending for loan forgiveness is £235 million annually.
  2. To meet NHS Long Term Workforce Plan targets, annual student intake for nursing needs to average 29,000 (2023-31), compared to 22,470 in 2023-24 (all sectors).
  1. For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact Dan Blows on 020 3927 2916 or email
  2. Read the joint letter in full here
  3. MillionPlus is the Association for Modern Universities in the UK, and the voice of 21st century higher education. We champion, promote and raise awareness of the essential role and impact of modern universities in the UK’s world-leading higher education sector. More information can be found at
  4. What are modern universities? Modern universities are long established centres of higher education in their communities with roots that stretch back decades, if not centuries. Many gained university title following legislation agreed by parliament in 1992. They make up almost half of the UK university sector with over a million students studying at modern universities every year.
  5. Modern university facts and stats