DH updates student funding plans

Published: 26 July 2016 Ezine

Following the consultation on reforms to the education funding for radiography and allied health professional students, the government has added further details to the plans to replace bursaries.

Richard Evans, SCoR chief executive officer, said, ”We are pleased that some points that the Society and other organisations made to the consultation have been acknowledged but there is still a long way to go before we can be reassured that the government understand fully the issues that face students from 2017."

The key points that the government has responded to are:

  • Support for childcare costs – there will be a payment of £1000 each year for students with child dependents to “reflect that students undertaking clinical placements may have higher childcare costs than the wider student population”.
  • Travel and dual accommodation – The first £303 that students would have to pay for travel to placements will be covered. The government will also cover the cost of students who have to pay for secondary accommodation whilst attending clinical placements IF the case for “educational provision and value for money is demonstrated”.
  • Postgraduate students – a bursary for tuition and maintenance will meet the full costs of the course for postgraduate students starting in 2017/18. This will be a transitional arrangement.
  • Hardship – bursary payments in cases of “exceptional hardship” will be provided.

After an initial reading of the government’s response to the consultation, Charlotte Beardmore, the SCoR director of professional policy, provided her thoughts:

Small/vulnerable professions
It is positive to see recognition that there may be challenges specifically for small groups and the report indicates that work will be undertaken with stakeholder groups. However, it is not clear if therapeutic radiography will be included in this group. Further work will be published in August 2017.
Postgraduate pre-registration programmes
It is encouraging that there will be funding for a capped number of students (based on the current numbers), but there is no commitment to this beyond the 2017 intake.  This is disappointing. Further information expected “in due course”.
Practice placements
We are pleased to see the acknowledgement that students completing high quality clinical placements are essential to having a well trained NHS workforce! Support for funding students’ placement accommodation is positive, as is funding of the initial £303 which students must pay before claiming travel costs. However, a lot more work is needed in this area and we will be expecting more detail.
The funding for this is welcomed but £1000 is not sufficient.
Practice placement capacity
The report states current arrangements will be maintained for 2017/18 with Health Education England retaining responsibility for commissioning the minimum number of placements, plus universities will be free to create additional places on top of these in partnership with their local trusts. We have concerns how the practice placement quality will be monitored if universities increase their intakes beyond the HEE commissioned placements. More work is to be done.

Assistant practitioners
Sadly, there is no mention of bridging programmes and career progression for Assistant Practitioners who want to access pre-registration programmes.
Part time students
The status quo is to to remain for 2017/18 for a capped number of students (not clear how many and which professions) but changes beyond this time period are being reviewed.

In summary, Charlotte said, "More information is clearly needed and is due in the autumn and until we see this we will not understand the full implications for the future."

Click here for the detailed government response to the consultation. 

Click here to read the SCoR's input to the consultation.