Student midwives 'at risk of leaving' over financial burden of training

Scottish Government warned to raise the student bursary 'urgently' or face losing the next generation of the workforce.

Almost a third of midwifery students fear they will have to quit their studies because of the financial burden of the course, a survey has found.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) in Scotland has warned the Scottish Government to raise the student bursary “urgently” or face losing the next generation of the workforce.

The student midwives finance report found 60% were worried about having to drop out of university because of juggling bills such as housing, energy and food on a student bursary.

Midwifery students taking on the full four-year degree are eligible for a £10,000 bursary in years one and three and £7,500 funding award in the final year.

Eligible students can also receive additional financial support in circumstances where there is a child with no dependant spouse.

However, the RCM report suggests student midwives are working considerable overtime between their university coursework, placement and part-time jobs to make ends meet.

Student midwife Ella Bendall, who helped to compile the report, said she had often worked more than 60 hours a week across university, placement and a part-time job.

The report also found that more than a third of midwifery students were so worried about the financial burden of their training that they struggle to sleep at night.

And 70% had to take on additional debt to cover the cost of their studies, while almost 70% reported losing their benefits once training began.

Jaki Lambert, director for Scotland at the RCM, said: “At a time when we need to invest in the midwifery workforce in Scotland, the system needs to do more to support our future midwives.

“The cost of training to be a midwife in many cases is too much to bear.

“With over half of midwifery students considering dropping out because they can’t afford to complete their course, the bursary, which has been frozen for years, needs to be raised urgently to reflect the cost of living in 2024.

“Make no mistake, we need these students. In one week alone, midwives worked cumulatively over 12,000 hours extra just to keep services running.

“They desperately need support of the next generation and for them to then stay in the profession.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We provide the highest annual non-repayable, non-means tested bursaries in the UK at £10,000 for eligible nursing and midwifery students.

“This is in addition to the reimbursement of placement expenses plus a range of allowances including childcare and dependents allowances, to support entry to this critical profession.

“The chief midwifery officer Justine Craig will today participate in the RCM led event in Parliament and will meet and listen to midwifery students to hear their concerns directly and update them on plans to review student finance.

“We value our midwives and the important role they play keeping people safe and that’s why we are working with our key partners including the Royal College of Midwives as part of the Nursing and Midwifery Taskforce, to improve the attraction, retention and leadership for NHS staff as well as students.”

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