Bursaries update - February 2017

Update regarding bursaries for undergraduate health-related courses in UK regions for 2017 entry

This is a follow-up to our update of September last year, when it was known that England had decided to withdraw the NHS Bursary Scheme from undergraduates for nearly all health-related courses for 2017 entry. At that time, other regions of the UK had not announced what their policy would be regarding the NHS Bursary Scheme for their area.

We note from the latest UCAS figures that applications for nursing courses this year are down significantly. Applicants from England making at least one choice to nursing fell by 23% when compared with last year. Much of this will be because the pull factor of a 'free' health-related course has disappeared for students from England who want to study nursing at a university in England.

trianglesStudents who study dental therapy or dental hygiene on courses in England can still get an NHS Bursary for the whole of their course if they start their course in 2017 and meet the eligibility criteria. This is unlikely to be the case for people starting these courses in 2018 or later, although there is no official announcement on this yet.
We have been following up with the other regions of the UK, and now have confirmation of their plans for 2017 entry. This is the situation as we understand it for UK students starting health-related courses for 2017 entry (see the Higher Ideas factsheet for more on what constitutes a health-related course).

Students who live in Scotland do not have to pay tuition fees if they study in Scotland. This is the same for health-related undergraduate courses as it is for other undergraduate courses taken by Scottish students in Scottish universities.

Students living in Northern Ireland can get a healthcare bursary to cover the tuition fees of a health-related course, if they do their course at a Northern Ireland university (i.e. Queen's University Belfast, or Ulster University). These healthcare bursaries are not available to students from other parts of the UK who come to study in Northern Ireland.

Students from anywhere in the UK who are accepted onto a health-related undergraduate course at a university in Wales can get a healthcare bursary to cover their tuition fees. This applies irrespective of which part of the UK the student is from. However, it does come with a condition: the student must sign up to a two-year lock-in, committing to work for the NHS in Wales for at least two years after graduation.

trianglesTuition fees for a degree course come to a significant amount of money, and it is noteworthy that health-related bursaries for studying in Wales are available to people wherever they come from in the UK. So progressions advisers working with students considering health-related courses may want to discuss the bursary options with them, especially if the student is choosing between universities in Wales and England on their UCAS applications list.

As ever, it is important for the student to check all details with the institution that they are applying to, and get written confirmation of everything relating to fees and bursaries.

The right health-related course for the right student still represents a good option for many, even without bursary assistance. There are lots of employment opportunities in the NHS, many with competitive starting salaries and clear progression pathways. And student loans with income-related repayment schedules are available for health-related courses as for other courses.

Higher IdeasWhile nursing courses have seen the biggest drop in applications, numbers for many other subjects are down too. Total UCAS applications this year are 564,000, which is 5% down on last year. So we can expect Clearing and Adjustment to be as lively as ever in August, as universities look to fill their remaining places.

Higher Ideas has factsheets on funding health-related courses (updated with this latest information), Clearing and Adjustment, and lots of other topics related to Higher Education.


Last updated 12 March, 2017