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 bodyonly 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,
and which I hope will be of interest to the Committee.
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