The Westminster government has recently announced the end of the NHS student bursary in England. The scheme is used by dental, midwife, nursing and other healthcare students to cover living costs and tuition fee costs. The bursaries are now to be replaced by student loans as of September 2017. Wales and Scotland are to retain the bursary for the foreseeable future as their NHS departments are independent of Westminster, though their funding may now be under threat due to a knock on effect of how finances are distributed within the UK.
The move has been met with condemnation from the British Dental Association (BDA), who criticise the move as exclusionary towards students from less privileged backgrounds. Chair of the BDA Student Committee, Paul Baylock, said: “The government says prevention and public health require a “radical upgrade”, yet this cut is an entirely retrograde step, that would deliver no savings and simply serve to undermine dental teams. Dentists stand with all our healthcare colleagues in opposition to a cut that could jeopardise patient care, and exclude talented people from the health professions simply because they lack the means.”
Over 20 health care organisations, educational establishments, unions and charities have approached the Westminster government to call for the continuation of the bursary.