A highly-respected course which trains hundreds of nurses every year in Birmingham could be facing the axe, it has been claimed.
The nursing and physiotherapy department at the University of Birmingham – which trains around 300 students every year – could be under threat following a drop in the number of undergraduate places commissioned by the NHS.
Undergraduate numbers for nursing and physiotherapy are set by the NHS Midlands and East of England Strategic Health Authority, and there has been a reduction in the number of commissions in recent years.
A university spokesman insisted that no decision had yet been made, and that students would still receive a University of Birmingham degree “whatever the outcome”.
But he confirmed that the future of the course was being considered, adding: “all possible options are being considered”.
One student told the Birmingham Post there were “concerns” among students they would have to complete their course elsewhere.
But the university said there was “no prospect” of students being taught at any other university, and that they were still recruiting for the 2012-13 intake.
The student, who did not wish to be named, said others on the course had contacted unions including the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and were writing to their local MPs over the matter.
“I turned down places elsewhere so I could come to Birmingham because it is so highly regarded and has a good reputation internationally,” the student said.
“The feedback when we go on placements is phenomenal, in that we have been taught to ask questions and go the extra mile.
“The NHS needs people like us, and I would hate to think that students in the future wouldn’t get the same opportunities we have.”
The student also claimed she only found out about the appraisal into the future of courses at the university after an article appeared in the RCN magazine the Nursing Standard.
The university stressed that the appraisal was “inclusive and transparent” and that staff and students had been made aware.
“People have made such big sacrifices to get here,” added the student. “We need the best people in our profession, and it would be awful if the university would no longer be known for its nursing.”
Paul Vaughan, West Midlands director of union the Royal College of Nursing, said the university had an “impressive track record” for training nurses.
He said: “Although it has a lower number of places than other universities that serve Birmingham and the surrounding area, we hope that the high quality of training it is reputed for is an important factor in this review.
“We certainly do not want to see these places lost from the region even if they end up no longer being provided by this university.
“It’s also important that students and staff are allowed to remain focused on the important job of learning and teaching without distractions.”
A university spokesman said recommendations on the future of the course was expected to be made in June.
The spokesman said: “Nursing and physiotherapy within the School of Health and Population Sciences at the University of Birmingham is currently undergoing an options appraisal on its future configuration where all possible options are being considered.
“The appraisal of all the possible options for nursing and physiotherapy is being undertaken inclusively and transparently. All staff and students have been made aware and invited to attend meetings and comment.
"The University is also ensuring that all relevant external stakeholders, including local NHS partners, are communicated to regularly throughout the process.”