Cutting student nurse bursaries is ‘an effective pay cut of £900’, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn stated during Prime Minister’s Questions on 20 January.
He said that prime minister David Cameron is taking away the grants are designed to help the poorest in society access higher education, despite cuting student bursaries being absent from the Conservatives 2015 election manifesto.
'Why is he punishing those nurses when we need them in our NHS?' Mr Corbyn questioned referring to Mr Cameron.
Mr Cameron responded by claiming that two out of three people today who want to become a nurse cannot do so because of the bursary system, which is why the decision was made to replace them with loans. He also stated that there were now 6700 more nurses than when he first became prime minister.
‘By introducing the loans, nurses will get more money and we will train more nurses and bring in fewer from overseas,’ stated Mr Cameron. ‘It is good for nurses, good for the NHS and good for our country, and it is only a Labour party that is so short-sighted and anti-aspiration that cannot see it.’
Mr Corbyn raised the example of ‘Vicky’, a mental health nurse who said that she would not have been able to afford to train as a nurse without the bursary system. ‘The problem is that the Prime Minister is expecting Vicky and others like her to fund themselves by paying back a debt or paying back from their wages in the future’ said Mr Corbyn. ‘I do not think that she will have been very reassured by his answers today; they will have been unconvincing to her.’
Mr Cameron repeated that the removal of the bursary would 'see 10,000 extra nurse degree places as a result of this policy, because we are effectively uncapping the number of people who can go into nursing'.