Written by Isobel.
All views are Isobel’s.
Campaigning for better funding for our healthcare students has been a top priority for me since becoming President of the Students’ Union. In my election manifesto, I campaigned on improving hidden costs and looking at giving students value for money, and this is definitely a cohort of students who are disadvantaged by Student Finance and hidden costs.
What are the issues?
- Healthcare students are given the same student finance as undergraduates studying for 2 trimesters each academic year. Healthcare students studying 3 trimesters a year which equate to an extra 15 weeks of studying/work each year.
- The University recommends that students should not get a part-time job around their studies. This is because students work full-time 37 hour weeks on placements – these are unpaid. However, the reality is that it is not possible for students not to work around their studies as they do not receive enough financial support to cover accommodation costs, everyday expenses, their families and placement expenses.
- Healthcare students have to pay out £100’s each month on fuel costs as they have to travel to placements which could be anyway across the region.
- They also have to pay to park on placements which can be up to £10 per day. These are costs that students cannot afford.
What have I done so far?
- Meeting with the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences who is fully supportive of our campaign
- Meeting with Diana Johnson MP. We have written a letter to Baroness Dido Harding (Chair of the NHS Improvement Group) to invite her to visit campus and healthcare students to discuss their experiences. Currently waiting on a response. You can read the letter we sent here.
- Phone call with the Royal College of Nursing to see how we can work together. RCN is fully supportive of the work we are doing and are happy to help where they can.
- I have written an article for Wonkhe (an organisation who discuss higher education policy and bring the sector together. They give platforms to drive policy conversation forwards and bring about real change) to challenge the current discussion on the funding for healthcare education. It is titled Ministers shouldn’t park funding for nursing students, you can read it here.
- Tweeted MPs, APPG on Students and NHS to lobby for improvements. So far the response I have had includes Paul Blomfield MP, who is seeking a Parliamentary debate on the issue.
What is next?
There is still a long way to go with this campaign and even more lobbying to do! We hope that in response to our letter to Baroness Dido Harding, we will get an on-campus event where she can talk to students. In the meantime, however, I will begin to petition our Universities Minister also! I have already sent him a tweet inviting him to campus.