Back to press releases

Students in North and West England put financial support for healthcare study central in this election

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Political party attitudes on financial support for healthcare education could determine voting decisions amongst students in the north and west of England on Thursday, according to a survey released by NUS (National Union of Students) today (11 December 19).

Seven out of 10 students in the North West, Yorkshire and Humberside, North East and West Midlands are likely to support a candidate or party committed to bringing back bursaries for nursing, midwifery and allied health courses, when deciding who to vote for in this general election. 

Students aged 23 to 49 years old, are significantly more likely than other age groups to support the reintroduction of these subsidies, with nearly 1 in 2 very likely to look favourably on candidates championing action in this area. 

The number of people applying to study nursing in England has fallen by more than 13,000 since the removal of the bursary, with the problem particularly acute for mature-students; there has been a 41 per cent decline in applications from people over 25 for these courses in the same period. There are currently 100,000 vacancies across the NHS, causing NUS to join forces with Unison, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives, the College of Podiatry and the Society and College of Radiographers to call for urgent, holistic and meaningful action on the issue of healthcare student funding by the next government.

The NUS survey of students across the UK, looked at issues of concern to students aged 18 to 50 plus, in this general election, and asked them how likely or unlikely they were to vote for candidates supporting certain measures. 

Speaking on the publication of the survey, Eva Crossan Jory, NUS Vice President (Welfare) said:

“The abolition of the funding package available to nursing, midwifery and allied health students in 2017 means that we are now training far too few nurses, midwives and allied health professionals for our health and care system.

“Students in England studying healthcare courses today are often struggling with living costs and dropping out as a result. Their well-being is jeopardised by a system which provides insufficient financial support and often forces them to undertake part-time work alongside their intensive studies. 

“In addition, students face the impact of having to fund placement expenses up front, a hardship fund system that isn’t fit for purpose and some students, such as paramedic science students, cannot access reimbursements for placement expenses at all.

“We urgently need change and for the new government, whatever its makeup, to shape a holistic strategy to reverse falling healthcare student numbers and applications and improve student welfare and retention. 

“The results of our general election survey show that students of all age groups fully recognise the importance of this issue, and the need for action now.”

Notes:

  1. The NUS General Election Survey 2019 involved over 1900 students from across the UK. The key objectives of the survey were to understand what issues are important to students and how this would influence their voting for a specific political party or candidate at the General Election. Within this report, a number of questions were analysed by different demographic groups.  Where applicable, and the base size is large enough (n>30), statistically significant differences between answers have been shown. A difference is significant when it is likely to have been caused by something other than random chance. The results regarding bursaries for healthcare education can be found here.
  2. Students keen to understand which parties and candidates are supportive of the reintroduction of maintenance grants can use the NUS’ new online VoteSavvy tool, created with HeySavvy, to help young people decide which way to vote on Thursday 12 December. The non-partisan solution, which is free to use and doesn’t store any personal information seeks to help young people understand their options in this election.
  3. NUS launched its manifesto for the General Election on 6 November 2019, calling on all political parties to commit to policies aimed at resetting society and can be used by anyone interested in understanding where candidates and their parties stand on the issues that students care about. You can read the manifesto here.