Select Committee on Education and Employment Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Letter to the Committee Specialist from the Parliamentary Officer, Royal College of Nursing (HE 132)

  The Royal College of Nursing is the UK's largest professional association and trade union for nurses, with a membership of over 330,000 registered nurses and nursing students. The RCN is a major contributor to health and nursing policy, developments in nursing practice, and standards of care. Approximately three-quarters of the RCN's members work in the NHS.

  The RCN has recently commissioned an independent survey of its student members, which will be published on 31 January. The main findings of the survey show:

    —  58 per cent of nursing students have considered leaving their course. Of these, 76 per cent cite financial hardship as a contributing factor. This is high compared with the wider student body—only ten per cent of full-time students across all subjects have considered leaving for financial reasons.

    —  Nursing and midwifery students have a much older age profile than other students. The average age of nursing students surveyed in 29, with a half of all nursing students aged over 25. A third of nursing students starting degree courses are aged over 25, compared with just 16 per cent starting other health degrees and one in ten across all degree subjects.

    —  Over a third (35 per cent) of nursing students have children living with them and 14 per cent have other caring responsibilities. Just under a third of students in the survey with children are lone parents.

    —  The average level of debt for all nursing students surveyed is £2,510. Three out of four student nurses surveyed are in debt. The average level of debt for only those with debt is £3,400. Nearly a third of all respondents have a debt of more than £3,000. The average level for final year students with debt is £3,745.

    —  Students who have considered leaving the course have significantly higher levels of debt than those who have not considered leaving.

  Taking these findings into consideration, the RCN is calling for a substantially increased, non-means tested bursary for all nursing and midwifery students, with increased allowances for mature students and for those with dependents. The RCN would like to see parity between degree and diploma students in type and level of bursary, and access to student loans and hardship funds for all nursing students.

  I am sending you a copy of the survey findings, along with a copy of Ending student hardship, a lobbying pack for RCN student members which contains further points for consideration in connection with student hardship[58], and which I hope will be of interest to the Committee.

58   Not printed. Back

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