MillionPlus response to NHS Bursaries: reforming healthcare education funding consultation

13 Jul 2016

MillionPlus, the Association for Modern Universities, hosts a UK-wide Network for Deans of Health and Social Care in universities. This briefing sets out the MillionPlus response to the Department of Health (DH) consultation Reforming healthcare education funding: creating a sustainable future workforce. This was published on 7th April 2016 following the announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP, in the 2015 Autumn Statement, of the Government’s intention to replace NHS bursaries with student loans for new students commencing courses in nursing, midwifery and allied health profession (AHP) subjects in England with effect from the 2017-18 academic year.

The government based its rationale for the change on six premises:

  • the benefits of the 2012 HE funding system which it says have been ‘proved comprehensively correct’
  • the potential for universities to create up to 10,000 more nursing, midwifery and allied health degree places during the current Parliament (i.e. by 2020)
  • the associated benefits to the NHS of a larger pool of ‘highly qualified home grown’ staff
  • widening access to nursing through increased living cost support
  • the creation of a system that ‘enables universities to invest in health higher education for the long term by increasing their income for teaching costs and giving them security on the number of places’
  • savings to the taxpayer as a result of the reduction in costs associated with the payment and administration of NHS bursaries

The DH consultation is focused on the technicalities of the switch to funding these students via the student loan scheme. However, it is also important to examine the premises on which the Government has based its case for reform. We examine these in more detail in Part One of this response and set out in Part Two our submission in respect of the specific questions included in the DH consultation.

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