I am a prospective mature student

What’s changing?

If you start most nursing, midwifery and AHP pre-registration courses in England after 1 August 2017 you will take out maintenance and tuition loans like other students rather than getting an NHS grant. You can find a list of the courses affected by this change in our briefing The System Explained.

But not everything is changing!

In fact most of the important things about studying to become a health professional are staying the same. Find out more about how to get on to a course and the standards of education you need to meet to graduate in our briefing All Change?

Most importantly of all, the reasons to become a health professional are the same. There are brilliant, rewarding careers across the professions in health, social care and beyond. With the care needs of our population growing, the demand for highly able and committed health professionals is only likely to grow. Find out more on the Why study health? page of the website.

Can I afford to go to university?

Lots of people worry about whether university is affordable. It’s important to know that you don’t have to pay money upfront: tuition and living cost loans work like a tax on earnings above a certain amount and aren’t like a commercial loan or a payday loan.

For the many students who also have children and other dependents there is a childcare allowance which is more generous than the old NHS Bursary system and is a grant not a loan so you don’t have to repay it. There are some gaps in the government proposals concerning child dependents and we’ll be lobbying for these to be covered in the new system.

This means that university should be affordable for everyone. See what Martyn Lewis from Money Saving Expert says.

Can I get any financial support from the university?

Nearly all universities offer extra money in the form of scholarships or bursaries to help with the cost of going to university. These are in addition to student loans and you don’t have to pay them back. They might take the form of cash or discounted services or accommodation. Some universities also offer fee waivers that will reduce the loan that you have to pay back.

But I’m worried about debt!

The important consideration is how much you have to pay on a monthly basis and not the total amount you owe. The repayments are set at 9% of your salary over £21k and are taken directly from your pay packet, much like a tax. For someone on the usual starting salary for a nurse or allied health professional of £21.7k you would pay £5.25 per month.

If you drop below the earning threshold for any reason, such as working part-time or taking a career break, you stop having to repay the loan until your income goes up again. The loan gets written off 30 years after you become eligible to repay so if you are a mature student there is a fair chance that you will never have to repay the full amount.

You can find out more about how the funding works in our Student Funding Information briefing and on the Case studies page of the website.

What about postgraduate pre-registration courses?

Most pre-registration courses are at undergraduate level but an increasing number of universities offer postgraduate (PGDip or Masters level) courses for graduates of science-related subjects. The usual loans package for PGDips and Masters wouldn’t be enough to support students on these courses, so we’re pressing the Government to extend the terms available for undergraduate courses to these as well – particularly as students join the workforce quicker and with particularly high level skills after completing these programmes. This would be similar to the system for PGCEs.

The Government is considering this as an option. While it is taking the decision, it has extended bursaries for tuition fees and maintenance for these courses for 2017/18. See more detail in the consultation response, p. 11.

What if I want to study in another UK home nation?

The standards for education for health professional courses are the same across the UK. The Government is proposing in its consultation that from 1 August 2017,  English students studying in the other UK home nations will need to apply to Student Finance England for tuition and living costs support.

This means that if you were living in England and wanted to study in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, you would have access to the same student loans system as if you were studying in England. This is the same as the system for other university courses. You can find out more in our table showing tuition fees and financial support across the home nations or via the gov.uk website.

What don’t we know yet?

The Government is currently writing the rules of the new system and has been carrying out a public consultation on how it will work. The response to the consultation has now been published and provides more detail around funding for part-time and postgraduate pre-registration students, additional grants for childcare and funding placement travel and accommodation expenses for students.

What should I do next?

If you’re planning to apply for a nursing, midwifery or AHP course, take a look at Unistats, the official hub for higher education statistics. This lists all the different courses and gives you information on things like how current students rate the course, graduate employment statistics. Once you know which universities you want to apply for, get along to an open day and talk to staff and students. Find more information about applying via our links page.

What if I’ve missed the deadline to apply via UCAS?

Some universities will accept direct applications to courses after the UCAS deadline or you can apply through clearing in July.

Can I afford this?

There are lots of myths about student loans and people understandably worry about whether university is affordable. Make sure you get independent advice and don’t be put off before you’ve investigated the way the system works. Money Saving Expert has a free guide produced with Universities UK on going to university as a mature student that you might find helpful.

Learn more