Postgraduate university-based degree routes in England

If you already have a degree you may be able to enter nursing, midwifery or allied health professions more quickly through a postgraduate degree route. These degrees, sometimes only two years in length, are normally either Diploma or full Masters programmes. In certain professions these routes are very common.

Postgraduate pre-registration nursing, midwifery and allied health profession students have had access to standard student loans since 2018. Funding arrangements are now in line with undergraduate pre-registration courses, including eligibility for the new student maintenance grant from September 2020.

Students who have already taken out a student loan are still able to access another loan to study these courses. This is not the standard postgraduate student loan but the same loan as that accessed by undergraduate students to cover tuition fees and support living costs.

Which disciplines are eligible for maintenance grants?

Since September 2020 new and continuing students studying the nursing, midwifery and allied health subjects receive a non-repayable and non-means tested (universal) grant of at least £5,000 a year, in addition to existing mainstream student support.

There is additional funding available to attract students to the highest-priority subjects based on the Government’s assessment of vulnerability and workforce priorities. Additional funding is also available for childcare and to support regional vulnerabilities. Total additional funding could come to as much as £3,000 per year for some students.

This financial support is intended to provide additional funding and not to replace the maintenance loan completely. We would expect most students to access both the non-repayable grant and the maintenance loan to help finance their studies. Together these sources will provide more day-to-day support for study than has ever before been available.

Funding will be offered to continuing students as well as new course entrants. NHS Business Services Authority has published full guidance for healthcare students 2020/21.

The full list of new and continuing students that benefit from the new non-payable maintenance grants is as follows. Students on each course receive £5,000 per year, apart from those marked with an asterisk, who receive £6,000 per year. Some students are also  eligible for additional funding for childcare costs or for studying in geographical areas with particular workforce challenges (details yet to be confirmed).

  • dietetics
  • dental hygiene and dental therapy
  • occupational therapy
  • operating department practice
  • orthoptics*
  • prosthetics and orthotics*
  • physiotherapy
  • podiatry or chiropody*
  • diagnostic radiography*
  • therapeutic radiography*
  • paramedic science
  • speech and language therapy
  • midwifery
  • adult nursing
  • child nursing
  • mental health nursing*
  • learning disability nursing*
  • joint nursing/social work

The grant is paid through the NHS Business Services Authority.

Will the loan cover my tuition fees?

The loan for postgraduate pre-registration students will cover fees of up to £9,250 per year.

What other support is available?

Support for childcare

Since September 2020, eligible new and continuing students with childcare responsibilities receive a £2,000 Parental Support payment from the NHS Business Services Authority. This can be in addition to other non-repayable support through the mainstream student funding system to help support childcare costs and a non-repayable parents learning allowance is also available.

Support for placement costs

Students on healthcare courses spend a great deal of time on clinical placements away from the university. In some cases, this means that students need to travel longer distances than usual or even stay away from home for a period of time. Students on these courses are eligible for reimbursement of additional travel and accommodation costs over normal daily travel costs. This Travel and Dual Accommodation Expenses (TDAE) support is part of the Learning Support Fund administered through the NHS Business Services Authority.

Other support

In some cases students may be eligible for certain additional support through the Learning Support Fund, including up to £3,000 for exceptional hardship.

Students who are obliged to incur essential additional expenditure while undertaking a course of higher education as a result of a disability will qualify for disabled students’ allowances.

The student support system provides additional, non-repayable grants, to students with adult dependants.

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.

Programme and student eligibility for loans

Course type and length

This funding extends to both Masters and postgraduate diploma courses leading to inclusion in the HCPC or NMC register. Postgraduate certificate programmes are not covered. All paramedic courses are currently excluded.

The legislation covers courses of at least two years in duration. However, 18 month courses are automatically designated as two year courses, and therefore eligible for student finance, as long as they meet the requirement that students attend the course (at the institution or elsewhere) for at least 8 weeks in the final year.

I am already a healthcare professional

Students who are already registered in nursing, midwifery, or an allied health profession will not be eligible for support for a second full-time or part-time pre- registration course or a second full-time postgraduate preregistration course leading to registration in the same profession. This does not however preclude dual registration, including where this leads to qualification for a profession in a different part of the register. For example, an adult nurse could study to become a mental health nurse.

How will I repay my loan?

Postgraduate and undergraduate students will repay their student loans in the same way after finishing their studies.

Loan repayment rates depend on the borrower’s income: repayments will be 9% of income above £25,000. If your income drops below £25,000 or you take a break from work you will not pay back the loan again until you are again earning over the threshold amount. Many newly qualified professionals in the NHS earn a little under £25,000 a year so you may not start paying back your loan until sometime after you qualify.

Loans are paid back automatically out of your pay packet so you don’t have to worry about missing repayments.

This repayment arrangement applies even when you have two loans subject to ‘Plan 2 repayment terms’ (post-2012 loans). The repayment amount is simply split proportionally according to the outstanding balance of each loan.

If your first student loan was a ‘Plan 1’ loan (pre-2012) the amount you will repay to each plan will depend on your income and the terms and conditions of each loan.

Remaining loan amounts from your Plan 2 loan will be written off after 30 years. This means you may never repay the full amount.

I have heard funding is changing because of the 2019 Augar Review. How will this affect me?

The Augar Review is the name commonly given to the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding, which was published at the end of May 2019. Theresa May commissioned this review from an independent panel. Implementation of the review’s recommendations is very uncertain but you can read more about what the review says and what the implications for student funding could be in our document What does the Augar Review mean for me.

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.

Learn more