West Norfolk student leads healthcare course funding fight

Education news from the Lynn News, lynnnews.co.uk, @lynnnewscitizen on Twitter
Education news from the Lynn News, lynnnews.co.uk, @lynnnewscitizen on Twitter
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A South Wootton student is leading an online campaign calling for greater funding for healthcare courses, which has already attracted almost 3,000 supporters.

Matthew Whisker, a former student at Lynn’s King Edward VII School and the College of West Anglia, is secretary of the University of East Anglia’s nursing society, which posted the petition on the 38 Degrees campaigning website last week.

The petition, which had more than 2,800 signatures yesterday, is calling for a change to the current loan arrangements, which give less money to students entering the final year of their studies.

Although government officials have insisted that other funding sources can help, the society claims the current rules penalise students on health-related courses, whose academic years are longer.

Mr Whisker, who will be starting the third year of his degree in mental health nursing next month, said: “This campaign’s aim is to highlight that this is inequitable and places additional financial burdens and stress on healthcare students.”

The petition claims that people studying health-related subjects lose out on an average of around £500 under the current rules and says payments should be adjusted to take into account the finishing dates of individual courses.

Mr Whisker said: “We need to recognise when a system is not working for us and as students we have the power to change things.”

A spokesman for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, which oversees higher education, said: “Students on healthcare courses can apply for a reduced rate non-means tested loan for living costs from BIS.

“This is set at a lower final year rate to reflect the fact that the academic year is shorter for the majority of undergraduate courses.

“However, students undertaking healthcare courses are also eligible to apply for NHS bursary support from the NHS.

“Students on courses that run for more than 30 weeks and three days may be entitled as part of the NHS bursary scheme to an extra allowance to reflect the fact their courses are longer than the average undergraduate course”

The petition can be accessed via http://goo.gl/22oqse