The government has confirmed that all nursing students in England will receive at least £5,000 a year to help with living costs from next academic year. The grant will not need to be repaid.
It will be supplemented by up to £3,000 more for students entering specialties that struggle to recruit, such as mental health, and for people living in parts of the country which have seen a decrease in those accepted onto nursing degree courses. An additional child care allowance will also be available to nursing degree applicants.
The announcement has been made ahead of the UCAS deadline for university applications on 15 January, something the RCN specifically requested in the run-up to the general election.
RCN student members have been campaigning for more funding after the bursary, which covered university tuition fees and provided mean-tested maintenance support, was scrapped in 2016. Since then applications to study nursing have dropped by 25% in England.
RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said: “With tens of thousands of vacant nurse jobs, serious measures are needed. This grant is a first victory for the campaign that our student nurses are running. The announcement will hopefully encourage more people to apply to a nursing degree by the mid-January deadline.
“In the run up to the Budget, we continue to call for our students to not pay tuition fees up-front. Any barriers for people wanting to enter nursing must be removed.
“The nurses at work today need to feel valued but also confident that the staffing shortages are being addressed with adequate investment.
“The RCN is calling for at least £1bn extra per year to be invested in nurse higher education to ensure patients and the public can access safe and effective health and care services.”