Approximately 86% of healthcare students are in debt, with nearly half considering leaving their course due to financial pressures, research from Unison has found.
The union surveyed 726 healthcare students, and found that the majority were forced to work other jobs to provide supplementary income. The proportion has risen from 61% to 68% in 2006. Of these, 64% say working extra hours is affecting their ability to study.
Of those working additional hours to their studies, just 8% work up to four extra hours a week, while a quarter work up to 10 hours each week in other jobs. Additionally, 31% work between 11 and 15 hours; 20% between 16 and 20 hours and 15% in excess of 21 hours, all with the commitments of studying for their qualification.
‘This report shows many healthcare students are already suffering with debt and working excess hours just to keep their heads above water. That’s before they take on student loans to pay course fees, which could see them amassing debts of £52,000 each,’ said Christina McAnea, Unison’s head of health. ‘Next year things will get much worse as the bursary disappears and they have no option but to take out loans.’
These financial pressures are having a severe impact on students. Around 17% said they had taken out payday loans to get them through the week. Furthermore 11% even resorted to using food banks to feed themselves. Unison are urging the government to look at ways of paying students a salary to alleviate the situation.
‘Students want a salary that reflects their unpaid work and which stops them worrying about running up huge debts or taking on other jobs that will prevent them from concentrating on their studies,’ added Ms McAnea. ‘Then they won’t have to work excessive hours or revert to relying on food banks to eat.’