At Least a Living Bursary for Student Healthcare Professionals

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2014 Health Care Service Group Conference
4 December 2013
Carried as Amended

Students in the healthcare professions put a lot of time and effort into working with patients and directly contribute to the NHS during their studies, which is why UNISON is rightly proud of our Pay not Poverty Campaign for Student Nurses.

UNISON has also led the calls for a Living Wage for all workers, making it a priority in our pay submissions. The Living Wage has become a well recognised concept amongst the Public and Employers; and it is now time to highlight just how far short of that our student members receive.

Pre-registration students on NHS funded courses who have started since September 2012 receive £1000 a year and can apply for a means-tested bursary of up to £4,395 (up to £5,460 in London). This means that even when in receipt of the full bursary available, students are still only in receipt of £2.75 per hour (£3.30 in London). This means that healthcare students are getting £4.90 less than the living wage (£5.50 less in London) as well as getting well below the adult minimum wage and being just above the disgracefully low minimum wage for apprentices (who are under 19 or in their first year.)

Conference is concerned that student financing is based on outdated assumptions of students living off their parents with few financial commitments, when the reality for many students is the opposite. Healthcare courses are full time work in themselves, the additional work that students on poverty bursaries are forced to do puts strain on their studies and their families.

While continuing to put the clear case for students to get the wider benefit that employed status would offer, it’s time to highlight what a shocking state of affairs the bursary system is in.

Conference therefore instructs the Health Service Group Executive to work with the Nursing and the Scientific, Technical & Therapies (STAT) Occupational Groups to:

1)campaign for at least a ‘Living Bursary’ for all healthcare students, linked to the wider Living Wage Campaign;

2)develop materials for use with students in workplaces and on campuses;

3)develop partnerships with Student Unions and the NUS as appropriate;

4)highlight the issue of healthcare student poverty with community organisations who campaign for a Living Wage.