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Government must refund nursing degree tuition fees after pandemic, says RCN

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Student debt 'This pandemic has demonstrated the huge contribution nursing undergraduates make to our health services – neither they nor future students should have to pay tuition fees to do this,' says t

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has repeated its call for the Government to review funding for nursing students in England. The College believes the demand has been given a new impetus by the contribution of nursing students in tackling COVID-19, particularly after final year students were invited in March to go into full-time placements for the last six months of their degrees to aid the fight against the pandemic

‘The vital work student nurses have been doing throughout the pandemic has demonstrated the huge contribution nursing undergraduates make to our health and care services – neither they nor future students should have to pay tuition fees to do this’, said Mike Adams, RCN Director for England

Early in May, the RCN – alongside the Royal College of Midwives, the National Union of Students and the public sector union Unison – wrote to the Health and Social Care Secretary, with a list of demands regarding nursing student funding. They asked that the government reimburse tuition fees for all current nursing, midwifery and allied healthcare students, abolish student-funded tuition fees for all future students starting in the academic year 2020/21 and introduce a universal cost of living maintenance grant to reflect student needs. These requests were all in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the demands that it has placed on students at this time. To date, the College says it has received no response to its letter.

'The NHS entered the COVID-19 crisis with almost 40,000 unfilled nursing posts in England alone – effectively with one arm tied behind its back,' said Mr Adams. 'Only by increasing the number of student nurses will we be able to provide safe and effective care for all.'

However, there has been no response to this letter, and so the RCN is reiterating its call to the government for these funding changes, to reflect the support and effort required of nursing, midwifery and allied health professional students both during and in the aftermath of this pandemic.

The Chair of the RCN Students Committee, Jessica Sainsbury, also commented on the need for the government to provide funding, saying, ‘It’s high time the government got behind student nurses by providing full tuition fee support and maintenance grants covering the true cost of living for all nursing students in England, both now and in the future. Any student who is in debt due to their nursing education should have their debt dropped’.

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