NHS to cover full £9000 tuition fees for 2012 entry medical students

Authors: Helen Jaques 

Publication date:  30 Jun 2011


Awards by the NHS Bursary Scheme will be increased to cover the full cost of tuition fees in years five and six for undergraduate medical students starting university in autumn 2012.

Graduate students who start the four year accelerated medical degree in 2012 will continue to receive £3375 a year towards tuition fees in the later years of study and will have access to student loans to cover the remaining up front tuition costs, the Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts told the House of Commons on Tuesday.

Currently all medical students on five and six year undergraduate courses receive a reduced rate student loan to cover tuition fees for the first four years of study. From the fifth year onwards the Department of Health funds tuition costs up to £3375 and provides maintenance support through the NHS Bursary Scheme.

The Department of Health has agreed to increase the amount first time students receive from the bursary scheme to cover the jump in tuition fees to a maximum of £9000 a year from 2012-13.

“This meets government’s commitment that no eligible first time student will have to pay the costs of tuition up front,” said secretary of state for health Andrew Lansley in a letter to Universities UK, the BMA, and the British Dental Association.

The government has also agreed that a Student Loan Company loan will be available to cover the difference between the £3375 paid by the NHS Bursary Scheme and the maximum £9000 a year tuition fees charge for graduates who start the four year programme in autumn 2012. Under current arrangements graduates are not entitled to a tuition fee loan.

These interim arrangements, which apply only to students starting studies in 2012-13, are a step in the right direction but must become a long term settlement, the BMA’s Medical Students Committee has said.

“We are pleased that ministers have listened and given guarantees to applicants for the 2012 intake. These individuals can now get on with planning their applications,” said Karin Purshouse, chair of the Medical Students Committee.

“However, despite this step forward the BMA believes that this announcement should not just be a short term fix, but a long term solution,” she added. “Since the government is committed to allowing universities to treble tuition fees, a decision that will leave medical students facing debts of over £70 000, it must also make sure that all those studying medicine have a basic level of support that enables them to get through their studies.”

Earlier this year the Department of Health proposed replacing the current NHS Bursary Scheme with means-tested and non-means-tested bursaries with or without an additional non-means-tested loan (BMJ Careers 6 Apr 2011, [Link] ). These options are still on the table for students starting courses in 2013 and later, arrangements for whom will be announced at a later date following further joint work between the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department of Health.

Read more about the new arrangements for 2012 on the BMA’s website at: [Link] .

Helen Jaques news reporter BMJ Careers

 hjaques@bmj.com

Cite this as BMJ Careers ; doi: