Health Science Funding Changes (1516P14)

Status: Lapsed | Zone: Education

Passed: 01/12/2015 | Lapsed: 08/12/2015

This policy was discussed at the following meetings:

  • Current NHS Bursary System
    Currently Nurses, Midwives, Podiatrists, Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapy have their degree funded via an NHS bursary, although it pays around 20 - 30% less than the loan it is not repayable.
  • Currently funded Health Science Students receive a reduced bursary in their final year in line with other students even though many degree courses do not finish until September of the graduating year. The NHS bursary is means tested, for a student who is not eligible for the bursary in their final year the maximum they will receive is only £2800 - £1000 grant from NHS bursary which is not means tested, and £1800 as a maintenance loan from Student Finance England.
  • Currently funded Health Science Students are able to claim travel and accommodation of placement under the NHS Bursary. Students may be placed all over the UK meaning that students will often spend hours of their day travelling to placement, or living in nearby accommodation meaning that they will often be away from campus for long periods of time.
  • Currently the NHS bursary is paid for by The NHS Business Services Authority, it receives its funding from the Department of Health and the scheme is ultimately governed by the Secretary of State for Health.
  • Proposed Government Changes to Funding and Student Nurse Cap Removal
    The NHS Bursary will be scrapped for a student loan, this means that students will receive 20-30% more than which they currently do with the NHS Bursary.
  • The proposed changes will be introduced for the cohort commencing their degree in Sept 2017.
  • Health Science degrees will be exempt from the rule preventing students who already have a degree accessing further loan finance.
  • Under the new proposals for loan financing this allows the government to remove the cap on the number of student nurses.
  • Student maintenance grants are being scrapped.
  • Issues associated with the proposed changes, and current funding.
    There is currently a shortage of placement places, the increase in nurse numbers will place a greater strain on local NHS Trusts to allocate places.
  • It is not known how the allocation of funding to NHS trusts by LETB’s will be affected if more higher education institutions begin to offer Nursing.
  • Health Sciences students who complete a degree will enter the NHS as a 'band 5' this will mean that the pay will be around 21.7k, on top of expensive regulatory body and trade union fees these students will look to pay around £379/yr.
  • There has been no guarantee that students travel and accommodation expenses will be reimbursed.
  • With the new proposals it is likely more institutions will begin to offer Nursing, causing greater competition in league tables, for jobs and postgraduate courses. Although this would not be an overnight issue, higher institutions would need to meet strict regulatory body guidelines before they can begin to offer Nursing, and other health science degrees.
  • There is no guarantee that the new loan system will take in to account the longer length of the final year for most Health Science degrees.
  • Although students with a first degree have been offered the student loan for Health Science degrees, the idea of having over £80k of debt will be very unappealing for students.
  • There has been very little student consultation/input regarding the proposed changes.
  • The average graduate job pays £25k, with the proposed spending review, there has been no discussion around increasing the £21.7k band 5 pay rate.
  • The move to a student loan will mean that the £1000 non-means tested grant will be removed.
  • Healthcare Scientists currently do not receive an NHS Bursary, they receive £1750/yr as a grant from Health Education Wessex, although this helps with placement, it is not enough to cover placements which span longer than 8 weeks. Alongside this, the grant is not guaranteed to be provided every year and can be scrapped at any time.
  • General Information
    Health Science students often undertake a placement part of their degree, they work alongside a graduate of their profession often working shifts as long as 13 hours for zero pay. Students are 'Supernumerary', this means that students are not included in staffing levels, but often undertake a caseload of the work.
  • Many students work alongside their studies as they find that the bursary is not financially stable for them.
  • There is currently an e-petition online relating to the scrap of the bursaries, which has reached the 100,000 mark meaning it will be debated in parliament, the petition has been accepted by parliament as a debatable issue and has been given the date of 11th January for debate. The issue with the e-petition is that it only addresses student nurses within the title, however the bursary changes apply to all health science degrees. - https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/113491
  • There is currently no plans to increase band 5 pay, the Kings Fund (http://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h6250.full) reports that those in a band 5 position have had a real term cut of around 3.1% in terms of inflation.
  • Health science degrees have a large attrition rate, many students upon graduating choose to work abroad and NHS Trusts often find it hard to retain staff.
  • Placements are allocated based upon regions defined by Local Education Training Boards ‘LETB’s’, they receive funding from Health Education England. They give funding to NHS Trusts within the region to take on students from universities providing Health Science Degrees. The LETB for The University of Southampton is Health Education Wessex.
  • The Faculty of Health Sciences and Council of Deans have given their initial backing for the proposed changes.
  • The societies within Health Sciences have given their backing for this policy proposal.
  • Due to the regulation of students within Health Science programmes, it is important that no campaign/protest breaches any Code of Conduct guideline.
  • It is important to fill the shortages of Nurses within the NHS, and address attrition rates within degrees.
  • Students from disadvantaged backgrounds will be most affected by the scrap of the maintenance grant, with many leaving higher education with debts in excess of £50k, It is likely these students will be put off from starting a degree due to the lack of financial support.
  • There will be a greater demand and competition for Health Science postgraduate places, and jobs within the NHS.
  • There needs be to a band 5 pay review and better incentives offered by NHS trusts if students are to pay for their degree.
  • That where a placement section makes up a large proportion of a degree programme, there should be availability to claim back expenses or have suitable financial support for travel and accommodation.
  • Although the student loan will be available to students who have completed a first degree, the idea of having to pay back over 100k for two degrees will put many students off switching to health sciences.
  • As a student union it has a duty to campaign for its member’s best interests, influence public and government opinion and campaign for policy change.
  • The change to a student loan should reflect the amount of weeks Health Science students are spent studying.
  • There should be suitable placement places available, which cover a wide variety of primary and secondary care, for students studying at the University of Southampton. While studying on these placements, students should have their supernumerary status honoured and should never be included in staffing levels.
  • That the union cannot take an official stance on the proposed bursary changes, as currently information suggests students will be more financially stable under the proposed move to a loan based system. However the issues addressed with the proposed change, and the lack of information means the union cannot back the proposal.
  • To condemn the government for the removal of the maintenance grant, poor student consultation on the proposed changes to student funding and the retrospective changes to student loan repayments and to support any actions compelling the government to change their position (including promotion of e-petitions etc.).
  • To take a neutral stance on the proposed bursary changes and cap removal at this present time, as there is little information currently available to take an informed stance. This stance can be later reviewed when more information is later available on the proposed changes.
  • That although we have taken a neutral stance, we need to campaign for the issues proposed to be addressed by the government, ensuring that the transition to student loan ultimately benefits students.
  • To support any protest which the working group supports, coordinated by any of the relevant trade unions, and to ensure that support is provided to ensure our members can attend these protests.
  • To work with members of the Students Union to get involved with, campaigning, voicing their opinion and facilitate student involvement in the proposed changes, and to raise awareness of the proposed changes via social media and publicity.
  • To encourage students to campaign/protest within the guidelines of their regulatory body so that they do not breach their Code of Conduct.
  • To work with a broad spectrum of organisations with relevance to this issue, including the NUS, other non-NUS affiliated Students’ Unions, Trade Unions, the University of Southampton and the Council of Deans and any other involved parties, to lobby for the following issues proposed with the change to the loans-based system to be addressed for Health Science Students:
    a. Ensuring that students who have to travel to or stay in local accommodation for their compulsory placement are still able to claim expenses, and adequate financial support is provided.
    b. That there will be suitable financial support in place for all students, no matter of financial background, as the move to student loans will mean the demise of the £1000 non-means tested grant.
    c. To perform a review of how placement funding is allocated to Healthcare Science students and ensure that they have financial support.
    d. That the local NHS Trusts, currently assigned to the University of Southampton by Health Education Wessex should have protected placement places for University of Southampton students.
    e. There is additional financial support for students who are coming from OFFA-countable groups such as those students from low-income households or households with low-involvement in higher education.
    f. That the decrease in loan for final year Health Science students be addressed and that the additional amount of weeks of University contact time are taken in to account when considering the loan which is paid to Health Science Students.
    g. That due to the increased amount of Student Nurses there should be greater incentives for local NHS trusts to employ graduates from the University of Southampton.
    h. That the University of Southampton, does not reduce the quality of its Nursing degree by talking in excessive numbers of students.
    i. That the government perform a pay review of Band 5 graduates to bring the pay rate in line with most other graduate jobs.
    j. That there is the possibility of having the debt wiped after a suitable period of service is given back to the NHS.
    k. There is better incentives for students with a first degree to undertake a Health Sciences degree as a postgraduate qualification.
    l. That students should be involved in discussions surrounding the proposed changes.
  • That a working group be created immediately to coordinate the Union’s stance towards this very serious matter, consisting of the following members (plus any other additionally interested parties):
    a. The Sabbatical Officer responsible for Education (in the chair)
    b. The Union President
    c. The Sabbatical Officer responsible for Engagement
    d. The Health Sciences Faculty Officer
    e. The Academic Presidents within Health Sciences.
  • That the working group shall meet as soon as is feasible.
  • That the working group be adequately resourced in order that it can act in line with the goals outlined in Resolves.
  • That due to the topical nature of the proposed changes, is it likely the working group will need to review the issues it is addressing and implement change.
  • That due to the proposed changes not being implemented until September 2017, the working group duration will be indefinite.
  • That the working group will later propose the stance in which it takes on the proposed changes to Education Zone once more information is available, and this stance will then be proposed to Union Council for approval.
  • That the working group will decide which national campaigns/protests by organisations are relevant to supporting the working group’s stance.
  • That the working group will feedback to Education Zone
  • Ensure that students campaign within the guidance of their regulatory body.
  • Working group will be in quorum when the following members are president - Sabbatical Officer for Education, the Health Sciences Faculty Officer and a minimum of 2 Academic Presidents from Health Sciences
  • The Union President and Sabbatical Officer responsible for Education to work with Local MP’s and those who have registered their support, and to also work with various organisations, including the NUS, other non-NUS affiliated Students’ Unions, Trade Unions, the University of Southampton and the Council of Deans.
  • The Sabbatical Officer responsible for Education to setup and chair the working group.
  • The Sabbatical Officer responsible for Engagement to use available resources to raise awareness of the proposed changes through the use of various platforms.
  • The Health Sciences Faculty Officer to work with all Academic Representatives within the faculty of Health Sciences to, support and lobby for the issues proposed in this policy via the following:
    a. Use various social media platforms including Twitter and Facebook to inform the student body of the work the team and the working group are undertaking on the Spending Review changes.
    b. Ensure that relevant feedback from the working group is presented to Faculty level SSLC’s as a standing item.
    c. Work with senior staff within the faculty to lobby for the proposed issues.
    d. To ensure that there are opportunities for any member of the union to get involved with the ongoing work towards the proposed changes.
    e. Advise the working group of professional regulatory bodies, so that there is no risk students breach their Code of Conduct, bringing their profession in to disrepute.
  • That relevant Sabbatical Officers, Student Leaders and Voluntary Officers, work collaboratively to support local and national campaign efforts which have been agreed by the working group, and facilitate participation by Union Members.
    Proposed: Daniel Browning (Health Sciences Faculty Officer), Calum Lyon (Nursing Academic President), Aisling Butler (Occupational Therapy Academic President), Samy Roshdy (Physiotherapy Academic President), Johnny Barber (Podiatry Academic President)