Student nurses and midwives at universities in Wales will continue to be offered the student bursary, the Welsh Government has announced.
Vaughan Gething, the Welsh health secretary, said that all students beginning a health-related course in September 2017 would receive financial assistance, whereas students in England will not be offered this. This arrangement will only apply to the 2017-18 cohort, while the Welsh government develops a longer-term package of support for student nurses and midwives, details of which will be announced in the future.
‘It is important that any enhanced investment made in training and development is combined with an opportunity to work in Wales and a commitment to invest in Wales by those who benefit,’ said Mr Gething.
Students who accept the bursary will have to commit in advance to work in the NHS in Wales for at least two years after they qualify. Students living in Wales who do not wish to commit to this will have to apply for the standard student support package available from Student Finance Wales.
This announcement has been welcomed by nursing and midwifery organisations. ‘It is vital for student midwives that the bursary is retained,’ said director for Wales at the Royal College of Midwives Helen Rogers. ‘Around one in four student midwives already carry debt from a first degree and would not be able to train as a midwife without the bursary. It would also affect those from lower-income families and mature students from entering the profession.'
'This extremely positive news will encourage prospective nursing and midwifery students who will not have to take out loans to fund their education,' said Tina Donnelly, the director of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Wales. She added that the RCN in Wales will endeavour to provide further evidence to the National Assembly for Wales to support retaining funding for nursing and midwifery education in Wales.