Information for Universities and Students regarding implications to changes to the NHS Wales Health Education Bursary scheme for 2017/18
England announced in November 2015 that as of September 2017 it would no longer provide funding for tuition fees and an NHS bursary for students studying Nursing and Allied Health Professional education programmes. Students studying in England would have access to the standard student finance package administered through Student Finance England.
On the 9th December 2016 the Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport announced that support for Health Education programmes would continue in Wales for those who wished to commit to work in Wales for a 2 year period following graduation. The full statement can be found at appendix 1.
In light of the Cabinet Secretary’s announcement NWSSP has worked closely with the Welsh Government to provide the following advice on the next steps.
- NWSSP are currently working through the detail to identify the process through which students will have to confirm whether they wish to commit to work in Wales following graduation and by confirming so will have access to the NHS bursary scheme. This will be completed by the end of January 2017 and it is anticipated that it will be operational from the 6th of April 2017.
- Students who do not wish to commit to work in Wales on graduation will still be able to study in Wales and will need to establish what financing they will be entitled to from their relevant home nation. Links to the relevant organisations will be available on the Student Awards Service (SAS) website and should also be available on HEI websites. The SAS website will be updated by the 6th April 2017.
- NWSSP is developing a declaration document which students will have to sign to confirm their agreement to work in Wales on graduation. This will be available by the 31st March 2017.
- NWSSP is developing guidance of what is considered suitable destinations for employment. This will be available by the 31st March 2017.
- NWSSP is developing guidance of what is considered suitable employment on graduation within the health sector in Wales. This will be available by the 31st March 2017.
- NWSSP is developing FAQ. This will be available by the 31st March 2017.
- NWSSP has developed an exemplar information sheet which HEI can use to provide further information to prospective students through their websites (Appendix 2).
- The Student Awards Service of NWSSP website will be updated for students to inform them when they can apply for an NHS bursary for September 2017 and March 2018. This will be updated by the 15th January 2017.
Ministerial Announcement: Written Statement - NHS Wales Bursary arrangements 2017/18. Issued: 9th December 2016
Vaughan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport: The sustainability of the NHS relies heavily upon the ability of the workforce to respond to the challenges it faces from an ageing population to technological advances and a growing demand for healthcare.
The flexibility required must be underpinned by a variety of high quality training and development opportunities which are constantly updated to ensure each member of the workforce has the skills, knowledge and experience to do their job to the best of their ability.
This government has consistently invested in the education and training of individuals wanting to work in the NHS and will continue to do so.
I have previously said that the longer term arrangements for student support for health related subjects will be considered alongside the recommendations arising from the Diamond Review. This remains my view.
We are facing significant financial challenges within the NHS and the issues we face around recruitment and retention must also be recognised. I believe that to ensure we have the workforce we need in Wales, it is important that any enhanced investment made in training and development is combined with an opportunity to work in Wales and a commitment to invest in Wales by those who benefit.
Therefore I am today confirming that for those individuals who elect to study an eligible health related programme in Wales commencing in September 2017 the current NHS Bursary will be available. This will be based upon individuals committing in advance to take up the opportunity to work in Wales post qualification for a period of two years. Individuals who do not feel they can commit to this two year service provision will not be eligible to receive the benefits of the NHS Wales Bursary Scheme, however Welsh domiciled students will have access to the standard student support package available from Student Finance Wales. This arrangement is intended to be in place for the 2017/18 cohort only, while the longer term support package is developed.
In contrast to the approach adopted in England, the Welsh Government is taking positive action to attract more health professionals across Wales and throughout the UK to come to Wales to train, work and live.
Funding of healthcare education programmes in Wales, September 2017 and Spring 2018
Unlike in England, where NHS bursaries covering tuition fees are no longer available, the Welsh Government has announced that those individuals who are prepared to commit to work in Wales for a specified period post qualification (two years employment for a 3 year programme) will be eligible to apply for an enhanced support package offered through the NHS Wales Bursary arrangements. This includes payment of tuition fees, access to non-repayable bursaries and access to student financing (loans) to assist with living costs.
This applies to eligible healthcare programme in Wales commencing September 2017 and spring 2018.
Individuals who do not feel they can commit to this specified period of employment will not be eligible to receive the benefits of the NHS Wales Bursary Scheme; however they will still be able to study in Wales and will be able to access the following support:
- Welsh domiciled students, who do not wish to commit to work in Wales on graduation, will have access to the standard student support package available from Student Finance Wales.
- Non-Welsh domiciled students, who do not wish to commit to work in Wales on graduation, will still be able to study in Wales but will need to secure funding from an alternative sources, this may include funding from the relevant funding body in their home country or self finance etc.
The full announcement from the Cabinet Secretary can be found at the Welsh Government website. Non-compliance with the terms and conditions of the scheme may trigger repayment provisions.
Students will need to make this decision in advance of commencing their studies and information packs are currently being developed to assist students in making their choices.