On 18 December 2019, the Government announced new student support arrangements for most undergraduate and postgraduate healthcare students. Further details were announced on 19 January 2020, outlining which professions will receive grants and extra incentives. Full guidance for healthcare students for 2020/21 has now been published by NHS Business Services Authority.
Student support outline
The Government wants to deliver 50,000 nurses. To support this ambition, it has announced that from September 2020 students studying nursing, midwifery and allied health subjects will receive a non-repayable and non-means tested (universal) training grant of at least £5,000 a year, in addition to existing mainstream student support.
There will be additional funding available to attract students to the highest-priority subjects based on the Government’s assessment of vulnerability and workforce priorities. Additional funding will also be available for childcare and to support regional recruitment difficulties (regional payments have not yet been confirmed). Total additional funding could come to as much as £3,000 per year for some students.
Funding will be offered to continuing students as well as new course entrants.
The new financial support is intended to provide additional funding and not to replace the maintenance loan. We would expect most students to access both the non-repayable grant and the maintenance loan to help finance their studies. Together these sources will provide more day-to-day support for study than has ever before been available. The Council has been calling very strongly for additional student support working closely with the Chief Nursing Officer, Chief Allied Health Professions Officer and Government departments. It has therefore welcomed this announcement.
What happens next?
The Government will make arrangements for funding to be available to students from September 2020 and the Council will work with policy makers to ensure that communication to students and universities is clear and timely. The Council will also continue to call for other measures to support sector growth, including national recruitment campaigns, strategic investment in placement capacity and consideration of tuition loan repayment in return for service.
Is this a bursary?
By definition, this money is a type of bursary. However, the arrangements are not the same as those in place before 2017 and the funding is now being referred to by the Government as a training grant.
Is this new funding arrangement a loan?
This funding is not a loan as it does not need to be repaid. It comes in addition to existing student support arrangements. We would expect most students to continue to take out a loan for tuition and probably also a maintenance loan to support living costs. Combined with the new grant this will give students access to more day to day support for living costs than ever before.
Will students continue to pay tuition fees?
For now, tuition fees remain in place for healthcare students, but these are paid directly to universities through the student loans system. Student loans are income contingent, which means you won’t have to pay them back until you are earning over £25,000 year.
Will the loan system continue for maintenance?
The maintenance loan will remain available for healthcare students at current levels. We would expect most students to continue to access it.
Which fields of nursing are included and do they all get the same funding?
All fields of nursing will receive the £5,000 support payment. Learning disability nursing and mental health nursing are included on the shortage specialism list and will receive an additional £1,000 grant.
Is midwifery included?
Yes, midwives are included.
Are AHPs included?
Dietetics, occupational therapy, operating department practitioner, orthoptics, orthotics and prosthetics, physiotherapy, podiatry or chiropody, diagnostic radiography, therapeutic radiography, speech and language therapy and paramedic students will receive the £5,000 funding.
Diagnostic radiography, therapeutic radiography, orthoptics, orthotics and prosthetics, and podiatry are on the shortage specialism list and will receive an additional £1,000 grant.
Is this funding for new students or existing students too?
The grants will be made to new and continuing students. They must meet residency eligibility criteria.
Does it include postgraduate students?
How will the funding be administered? How will students access the funding?
The grants will be administered by the NHS Business Services Authority, which already provides reimbursement for placement-related travel and accommodation costs. The full guidance outlines the online application process, eligibility criteria and payment schedule.
Training grant payments will be paid in three instalments over the academic year and will intermit with termly student loan payments to provide students with a consistent flow of funding throughout the academic year as far as possible.
Are part time students eligible?
Yes. Part time students will receive the grant pro-rata of the full-time amount, depending on the attendance pattern.
When will this new arrangement be available from?
The training grant is available from 1 September 2020 onwards and applications are to be made at the start of your next full academic year. The application window for students on Autumn cohorts will open from July 2020.
Existing students whose next academic year commences from January 2020 onwards should continue to apply for existing elements of NHS Learning Support Fund until they become eligible for the new arrangements.