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Student bursary

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For the first four years of a standard dental degree, student fees and living costs are funded by student loans.

This changes in the fifth year when NHS bursaries cover fees. Depending on the year of entry, students may also be eligible for a means tested bursary to assist with living costs, or a non-means tested grant.

NHS bursary review 

Recent media coverage has suggested that the Government may cut bursaries for student doctors and dentists and replace them with students loans. We are closely monitoring this situation and are working in partnership with organisations representing nurses, midwives and other health professionals to fight against this. Find out more about our work below.

Background

On 30 November 2015 we met with representatives from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), Unison, the National Union of Students (NUS), the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CoSP) to discuss the Governments budgetary spending review. The review announced that student nurses and midwives would stop receiving NHS bursaries and would, in future, receive loans.

Concerns

There were a number of serious concerns over the announcement, in particular the effect this would have on poorer students entering the professions. We were also concerned about the likelihood that, in the future, dental and medical student bursaries would be axed in favour of student loans. There were also particular concerns around whether dental hygiene and therapy students would be eligible to receive a student loan if the NHS bursary was withdrawn. We therefore agreed to support the campaign to preserve the NHS bursary for all health professionals.

Student Support Advisory Group meeting

A subsequent meeting was held on 2 December 2015 with the Student Support Advisory Group (SSAG). This was organised by the Department of Health (DH) and included the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) and Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).

The meeting was attended by our representatives along with the RCN, NUS, Unison, BMA and CoSP. It gave us the opportunity to speak with policy advisers at DH responsible for consulting and implementing the spending review: namely the replacement of NHS bursaries with loans for student nurses and midwives.

It was confirmed that the consultation would be about the implementation of loans, rather than a consultation on the principles surrounding NHS bursaries for student nurses and midwives. No specific date was given by the DH on the timeline for the consultation. It was hoped the consultation would be launched at some point in February 2016 and could potentially last three months with implementation of loans during the 2017 academic year.

We sought clarity as to whether there was a possibility that the proposed changes to the NHS bursary system would in future apply to dental and medical students. The DH confirmed that there were no current plans to make changes to the NHS bursary for dental and medical students.

Along with other representatives from the NUS and BMA, we were pleased to hear the government was not at present making changes to the NHS bursary for dental and medical students. We did however, express concerns over the justifications used to apply the change only to nursing and midwifery students. For example, medical and dental degrees are longer, therefore the DH said this justifys the retention of the bursary at present.

Summary

There had been a parliamentary petition on the scrapping of the NHS bursary. As the prerequisite 100 000 petitioners' signatures was surpassed this was discussed at Westminster Hall on 11 January 2016. 

We have also supported a joint briefing along with Royal College of Nursing (RCN), Unison, the National Union of Students (NUS) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).

Our representatives, along with other organisations, felt that the cost of administering two different funding systems for healthcare and medical students would prove unwieldy. We are concerned that in the near future, a spending review and consultation about converting the costs of NHS bursaries to loans for dental and medical students would be carried out.

Following robust consultation submissions from the BDA and others, dental hygiene and therapy students have been afforded a one-year transitional arrangement in which the bursary will remain in place to allow for provisions to be made that will ensure they are entitled to student loans.

We are continuing to closely monitor the situation surrounding NHS bursaries for dental students and are working with those representing nurses, midwives and other health professionals.

Current bursary update

2016 - 2017

Here are latest NHS Bursary Scheme rules for 2016-2017. These rules will come in effect on the 1 September 2016.

Dental students starting their course in 2016/17 can see a short summary of their entitlements here.

The NHS Business Services Authority's FAQs have been updated and are available download for 2016/2017. There is also a helpful step-by-step guide on how to complete a bursary application through the Bursary Online Support System (BOSS).

2015 - 2016

The NHS Business Services Authority's FAQs have been updated and are available download for 2015/2016. There is also a helpful step-by-step guide on how to complete a bursary application through the Bursary Online Support System (BOSS).