The Spending Review – what about the students?

I’ve recently attended several meetings and workshops exploring the spending review and its impact. There’s more meetings this week, I’m on a train on my way to one now. What I’m wondering is, what will the impact be on those who are currently considering healthcare in a few years time. Will they never know it was funded? Is it the norm to pay your university fees? I suppose you don’t know what you don’t know! So then I started to wonder, what about us, the educational staff? We know what has been, what will be coming and all are mostly unsure of the actual impact it will have.
I’ve been discussing the future with Directors of Nursing in our local healthcare organisations. There are some solutions, but they all vary. Will this make it difficult for students, trying to cherry pick the best deal? So I thought I’d give you a list of the solutions so far and see if you have a view:

– give students a contract as a health care assistant throughout their training of at least one day per week to guarantee them some income. This is good, we need to ensure that they work in areas where they are not placed as students, our experience tells us that this otherwise blurs their identity.

– refund tuition fees (up to 50%) if they remain in the organisation for a fixed period of time post qualifying. I guess this depends on who you are, are tuition fees just another (acceptable) tax and therefore not the main issue?

– in organisations that have capacity, provide low rent or possibly free accommodation for the duration of their programme. This is difficult, not everywhere has available accommodation. Would this put certain providers above others when students as customers may have a greater right to choose where they undertake the clinical elements of their programme?

– provide funding for a post graduate qualification if you remain in the organisation for a minimum of 18 months / 2 years post qualification.

So all of the above have legs, but I wonder, how do we make it fair across our provider partners? It feels to me that we need a combination of these offerings for all areas. If not, then how can we evenly spread the student numbers. They will be our customers, our culture has to shift. We do of course have to maintain our selection process to ensure we continue to recruit the highest calibre of student at Surrey to be the future health care workforce.

I’m interested to hear your thoughts?

Melaine Coward

Head of School
School of Health Sciences