A petition started by a student nurse in the School of Health Sciences, and Publicity Secretary for the UEA Nursing Society, has gained more than 1,600 signatures in just 48 hours, attracting attention from students at the University of East Anglia but also all around the country.
Launched by Alice Edwards, with the support of UEA Nursing Society, the campaign highlights that the standard reduction in the student loan, which applies to undergraduates in their final year, reflects unfairly on those who study healthcare courses, due to these courses often having longer semesters.
The current standard reduction in the amount available for the final year of study is set at £513. This figure is based on a three-month reduction for the summer months after graduation. Instead, the petition recommends a pro-rata reduction based on the end date of the academic year, rather than the national average.
Robin E, a signatory who left a comment on the petition, said: “The current system is designed for the majority of students and fails to reflect the particular needs of healthcare students. The solution is simple, increasing the final year loan by a small sum, righting a wrong and winning the support of student healthcare workers”.
When approached for comment, Edwards said: “We need to recognise when a system is not working for us and as students we have the power to change things. Towards the end of our training we will be looking ahead to qualification and applying for new jobs as registered workers. It is, I suspect, an exciting time, and our studies should be our sole focus at that point. Why then as we reach a climatic end of third year are we suddenly left with less support financially from the government?
“Healthcare students studying at university are subject to the same reduction in the amount available under the student loan for their final year as all other students, despite the fact our academic years are longer.
“This campaign aims to highlight that this is inequitable and places additional stresses and financial burden on healthcare students. We would like the student loan to be adjusted to reflect this, and become a pro-rata reduction determined by each student’s academic year end date.
“I hope that [people] will take the time to support our campaign so that we can draw attention to this issue and make a change to support students in the future”.
Connor Rand, Undergraduate Education Officer at the Union of UEA Students added: “It’s great to see UEA Nursing Society standing up for its members and speaking out on issues that matter to Nursing and indeed all healthcare students.
“This is yet another example of the student loans system not working in its current format. To have a loans system that doesn’t cover all costs, effectively representing an additional hidden course cost, significantly affects all students’ welfare and wellbeing and particularly disadvantages those from poorer backgrounds. We must take the fight to structural and social inequalities in our education systems.”
The petition first had the aim of raising 900 signatures. However, since gaining support from The Student Nursing Times, this has been adjusted as the number of signatures has soared.
The petition, Student loan final year reduction should be fair for healthcare students, can be found here.