Calls have been made for the government to write off student loan payments after errors have left 800 trainee nurses without funding.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) claim that students were given ‘false reassurances’ that the amounts they had so far received were correct when in fact they were being overpaid.
‘When we face such significant nursing shortages, trainees should be supported and encouraged. The Government can ill-afford to have even more turn away from the profession,’ said RCN chief executive, Janet Davies.
‘A sharp reduction in loan payments could have a catastrophic effect on limited student budgets and drive some to leave their studies.’
Students from 20 universities will have their next instalment of loans reduced or withheld after some were overpaid between £600-£6,000 - with those in need of the most support being overpaid the highest amount.
‘On top of being a busy student nurse, I am also the main caregiver to two young children and I am worried about the devastating effect that a considerable reduction in payments will have on my family,’ said Rupert Davies, a student nurse in London.
‘Hospital placements and high childcare costs mean I am unable to take on extra paid work so I may have to consider whether or not I can remain on my course as a result of the error.’
With student nursing applications having fallen for the next academic year, the overpayments are a concern for the RCN as many current trainees may face financial hardship and could potentially be forced to leave their studies.
A spokesperson from the Student Loans Company, whose administration error caused the overpayments, had this to say: 'We do not want anyone to suffer hardship as a result of a reduced entitlement and will use our discretionary powers to defer the recovery action, where appropriate. We would encourage anyone affected to email firstname.lastname@example.org.'