Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Public Policy|Southampton

Consultation responses | Reforming healthcare education funding: creating a sustainable future workforce

Nurses

Student Nurse Funding Consultation

Department of Health

A response from the University of Southampton | June 2016

Read the call for evidenceDownload the response

The Policy - current support rates &  undergraduate and postgraduate courses

1 After reading the list of impacted undergraduate and postgraduate courses, are there further courses which you think should beincluded in the scope of the reforms? If yes, what are these courses and why would the current funding and delivery models require their inclusion?

Yes. While the UG Health Care Scientists preparatory programme is HEFCE funded students are reliant on the bursary provided by HEE to fund their travelling costs to placements. As these placements are widely dispersed across the region this is often a considerable sum. Placement providers also receive a tariff to support the costs of supporting students in practice. The following programmes are currently funded by HEE but are not included within the consultation.

The policy - postgraduate Master's loan

2 Do you have any views or responses that might help inform the government’s proposed work with stakeholders to identify the full set of postgraduate healthcare courses which would not be eligible for a postgraduate masters loan and to consider the potential support or solutions available?
Question 2 Do you have any views or responses that might help inform the Government’s proposed work with stakeholders to identify the full set of postgraduate healthcare courses which would not be eligible for a Postgraduate Masters loan and to consider the potential support or solutions available?:

The University of Southampton currently offers three post-graduate healthcare programmes:

• Post-graduate Diploma Nursing 2 years full time. Tuition fees £8,315 p.a.

Annual recruitment for each field is as follows:

Adult 70+

Child 20

Mental Health 30+

(This programme used to attract an accelerated programme fee of 125% of Adult Nursing BMP which was cut back by the local LETB when inflationary payments for BMP were stopped).

• MSc Midwifery – 3 years full time. Tuition fees currently £9,561 p.a.

Annual recruitment: 7

• MSc Physiotherapy - 2 years full time. Tuition fees currently £13,168 p.a.

Annual recruitment: 16


This University also has validated postgraduate Masters programmes for Occupational Therapy and Podiatry on its books, but these programmes have not been offered yet.

Under the new funding model students applying for the PG Diploma Nursing programme would not be eligible for the Masters PG loan. Even if the programme was revalidated as a full 2 year Masters the loan would only cover the first year of study, and students would not be eligible for a cost of living loan or reimbursement of travel costs. It is our view, based on discussion with current students, that this would reduce applications to the programme to such an extent that it would no longer be viable and as a consequence 100+ registered nurses would be lost to the health system year on year.

While it could be argued that interested applicants could apply for a UG nursing programme and so be eligible for a second UG loan, this fails to take into account the added value graduates from a PG pre-registration nursing programme offer to health care. These individuals are available to the workforce in 2 rather than 3 years, they swiftly make the transition to registrant practice, and anecdotally are ready to take on more senior clinical roles more quickly. They are also much more confident in challenging poor practice and implementing change. Some of this confidence comes from having had the opportunity to study at higher academic level and this would be lost if they were forced down the UG route. Their value is well articulated by our NHS stakeholders, some of whose feedback is included below:

1. 'We are a large adult community, mental health and learning disability trust, we also encourage widening participation and access – we have found the PG Dip programme of huge value in upskilling our existing experienced workforce and in a time of national shortage of nurses – we think this is essential to grow our own workforce. With other national initiatives (Apprenticeship Levy etc) if our post graduate students were unable to access student loans this could hinder our progress and block access to staff that we need to develop.

We therefore cannot impose financial sanctions that would disadvantage existing staff within the NHS that have the right skills, competencies and caring attitude that we need to give high quality nursing care, bearing in mind the introduction of “student loans” was meant to give equal rights and access to all students, we therefore need to ensure this ability applies to both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes of higher education.’

Ass. Dir. Learning Education and Development

Community Healthcare Trust


2. 'The PG diploma programme is a key valuable and sustained part of our workforce planning for registered nurses within our Trust. The students who study via this route bring with them a wealth of experience both academically and in terms of skills which they harness to complete the nursing programme. We also believe that once qualified they also adapt more quickly to the role of registered nurse and often progress more quickly. We would have major concerns that the proposed financial changes would prevent applicants from pursuing a second programme of study and we will lose this most vital and diverse part of our future workforce'

Associate Director of Nursing

University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

 

3. 'The PGDip recruits are normally more confident of their own abilities, are able to assimilate quickly into clinical teams are able to step in and up to take on the role of a registered practitioner. Within our preceptorship process they are supportive of other new registrants and generally take a lead role in serviceimprovement projects. Their contribution is valued and an essential part of our workforce.'

Head of Nursing and Midwifery Education

Hospitals NHS Trust


We have similar concerns about the MSc Physiotherapy and MSc Midwifery programmes we provide. It should be noted that the regulatory body sets the requirement for the Midwifery programme to be of three years duration. As it currently stands students applying for this programme would not be eligible for to apply for any loan to support their study.

It is our view that students applying to Post-graduate Healthcare Professional Programmes, whether culminating in a full Masters or a PG Diploma, should be eligible to apply for a second UG tuition fees and cost of living loan under the same terms and conditions as those applying for a second UG programme.

 

 

The policy - second undergraduate degree

3 We think that operating the exemption will support the objectives for encouraging second degree students to undertake nursing, midwifery and allied health courses. Are there any other options, which do not include an NHS bursary, that could be considered?

Question 3 We consider that operating the exemption will support the objectives for encouraging second degree students to undertake nursing, midwifery and allied health courses? Are there any other options, which do not include an NHS bursary, which could be considered?:

One option is employer sponsorship, where the employer who could be an NHS organisation or a non-NHS organisation such as Bupa or VirginCare, could fund education via employer contracts which stipulate that the student on completion of their programme has to work X number of years in return for the funding provided.

Another alternative option is for employers to pay off the monthly student loan repayments.

Offering the same loan terms to PG students as is offered to UG students undertaking a second degree will ensure the viability of PG pre-registration nursing programmes. Feedback from PG alumni and our stakeholders is that this route is highly valued. The reasons for this are: PG students are available to the workforce in 2 rather than 3 years, they swiftly make the transition to registrant practice, and anecdotally are ready to take on more senior clinical roles more quickly. They are also much more confident in challenging poor practice and implementing change. Some of the confidence comes from having had the opportunity to study at higher academic level and this would be lost if they were forced down the UG route.

The policy - widening participation

4 Are there circumstances, as set out above or otherwise, in which the standard student support system which would be available for nursing, midwifery and allied health students would be inadequate or limit participation? Why is this? We are specifically interested in cases where an individual’s circumstances mean that they would not fully benefit from the increase in living cost support or to the same extent as other students. A system which would be available for nursing, midwifery and allied health students would be inadequate or limit participation? Why is this? We are specifically interested in cases where an individual’s circumstances mean that they would not fully benefit from the increase in living cost support or to the same extent as other students.:

In principle we believe that increasing the support available to students is an improvement on the current system. However we are concerned that mature students and those from lower POLAR3 neighbourhoods have a tendency to be more debt averse, more apprehensive about the repayment burden and will therefore be less likely to apply for nursing and AHP programmes than they are under the current system.

Unless specific funding provision is made for placement support, Nursing students in particular, will be treated the same as students on any other University programme and they could be disadvantaged because nursing programmes are 44 weeks long, much longer that other University programmes and opportunities to find work to support their studies are diminished.

Consideration of placement expenses for placements at a distance e.g. Podiatry students at our University travel to Sheffield for placements, as enough placements cannot be generated in the HEE Wessex region.

Mature students may have a greater debt aversion than 18 year old students, and there is a lack of understanding around the repayment burden because potential students view the Student loans like a mortgage.

 

 

5 Do you agree that increasing the available support for living costs typically by around 25% or more, and enabling these students to apply for additional funding through the allowances on offer from the Student Loans Company, would ensure that we continue to have a diverse population of students?

Yes

 

6 Are there specific factors relating to healthcare students which you consider we need to take account of in relation to the discretionary maternity support provided by the student support system?

Are there specific factors relating to healthcare students which you consider we need to take account of in relation to the discretionary maternity support provided by the student support system?:

No specific issues

7 Are there any other measures which could be considered to support our principles of fair access?

The POLAR scale defines participation in higher education by neighbourhood, and groups neighbourhoods into quintiles (with 1 being the lowest participation). It is estimated that approximately 30% of entrants to our nursing programmes come from POLAR3 1 and 2 neighbourhoods and 40% of students are classified as mature entrants. We are cognisant of that students from each of these groups are likely to be more debt averse that younger students and those that come from areas of high participation in higher education. We are particularly concerned that allowances for dependants, travel and accommodation are sufficient to enable participation for mature students who are more likely to have financial commitments and caring responsibilities. The attrition rate among these groups is already higher than their peers because of these additional responsibilities and constraints.

Timely and full reimbursement of travel costs to placements is essential to ensure that health professional students benefit from the proposed changes to funding.Failure to do so will result in some students being financially worse off than they would have been under the current system.

Students in Southampton are placed across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. We have maps which show where placements are located, the distances students may be required to travel, the duration of the journey and costs incurred, but unfortunately they cannot be copied into this response.

The policy - part time students

8 Do you think that the potential options for those new part-time students commencing courses in 2017/18 will support students in continuing to undertake these courses in this transitional period?

Yes

9 Do you think that moving all new part-time students onto the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) student support system for both tuition and living cost support through the Student Loans Company from 2018/19 will continue to encourage part-time students to undertake these healthcare courses on a part-time basis?If no please set out details of further supporting action you consider may be necessary by the government for students commencing courses from 2018/19 onwards. (Any options including the ongoing use of an NHS bursary or changes to the student support system will not be considered)

Not Answered

If No – please set out details of further supporting action you consider may be necessary by the Government for students commencing courses from 2018/19 onwards. (Any options including the ongoing use of an NHS Bursary or changes to the student support system will not be considered):

Currently many of the students who come to us for part time programmes are sponsored by their NHS employers, and salary backfill is paid by the local LETB. It is unlikely that these employers would be willing to continue this arrangement if back fill support was terminated. The proposal to allow students access to the NHS Bursary scheme for 1 year could work as a temporary solution, but where a conflict of interest might arise is for those students on HEFCE funded programmes such as Healthcare Scientist programmes, where students currently receive a basic placement costs support from HEE Wessex for £1,750 per year.

The policy - deferment and suspension of studies

10 Do you have any general comments on the content of this section that you think the government should consider?

Do you have any general comments on the content of Chapter 2 which you think the Government should consider? :

EU students will look at the overall cost of the course package to determine if it is good value for money or not. For example, Irish Students currently receive support from SUSI, the Irish equivalent of NHS Bursaries, but tuition fees are paid for by the DH. If tuition fees rise above their home country programme costs, then why would they want to travel to the UK?

Social work

System architecture

11 We would welcome respondents’ views on how, in delivering these reforms, we look at the widest possible solutions to ensuring high quality clinical placements. These views will actively inform further stakeholder engagement prior to the government response.

Widest possible solutions to ensuring high quality clinical placements. These views will actively inform further stakeholder engagement prior to the Government response. :

The lack of a coherent national placement system creates challenges. The radius of a placements from a fixed term residential address can incur significant transportation costs to the student, and in some cases additional and increased living away from residential base costs.

Student tariff payments to Placement Providers out of region has been a bone of contention and HEIs should have access to a placement funding source withwhich they can conclude agreements with key Placement Providers both in and out of LETB region.

 

System architecture - smaller and specialist health subjects

12 What more needs to be done to ensure small and specialist subject provision continues to be adequately provided?

What more needs to be done to ensure small and specialist subject provision continues to be adequately provided?:

Where there are multiple providers of small programmes within a geographical region, HEIs could decide agree amongst themselves to support smaller programmes by agreement around student numbers and viability of cohorts. Programmes under threat include 1 year District Nursing and Community Child Nursing programmes, although with some minor restructuring of the programmes, they could be offered under CPD provision. Any arrangements would need to take into account the avoidance of anti-competitive practices.

 

System architecture - geographical variations

13 Do you have any general comments on this section which you think the government should consider?

Do you have any general comments on the content of Chapter 4 which you think the Government should consider?:

Unfortunately in the current economic climate, students tend to attend their 'local University' which is generally within a 30 mile radius of their home. It is unlikely that on graduation, graduates will want to travel further afield unless NHS trusts can offer an attractive employment contract. Many NHS trusts are currently not geared up to cope with the implications of this funding consultation, and they will continue to struggle to attract graduates.

 

14 Do you have any further comments on this consultation which you think the government should consider?

Do you have any further comments on this consultation which you think the Government should consider?:

Currently the costs of Uniforms, DBS checks and Immunisations are paid for outside of BMP costs which just covers tuition fees. Many HEIs will probably pass these costs on to the student, and this could have a negative impact on recruitment.

The impact of CMA for Universities and the information Universities provide to students at the offer stage will be crucial to the student to enable them to make informed decisions. If the results from the consultation are only published in October, most Universities will be recruiting students for the 2017-18 Academic year intake, and not able to give students accurate information in offer letters.

Facebook Twitter

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×