Confusion over university tuition fees could lead to a shortage of nurses, a Birmingham academic has warned.
Louise Toner, associate dean at Birmingham City University’s Faculty of Health, voiced fears that the NHS could be missing out on new nursing staff because potential students wrongly believed they had to pay course fees.
The Department of Health covers the cost of university tuition fees for students hoping for careers in nursing and other healthcare roles.
But Mrs Toner said her department had taken a number of calls from prospective students who mistakenly thought they had to cover the cost of training.
Students on other degree programmes nationwide will be faced with tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year from later this year.
She said: “We want anyone who is considering a career in healthcare to realise that there is no change to Department of Health-funded courses that start in 2012, they continue to be funded despite the change in fees for other university courses.
“The Faculty has a BSc (Hons) Nursing intake in April and October for four fields of study and we are concerned that, as a result of the apparent confusion regarding fees, individuals may not apply for the forthcoming April and subsequent October intake.”
The University’s Faculty of Health teaches 7,000 students, 2,000 nursing students in areas including adult, child, mental health and learning disability nursing.
As well as tuition fees funding from the NHS, students can also apply for a means-tested bursary, £1,000 grant and maintenance loan to cover living and travel costs.
But Mrs Toner added that while there were financial benefits of opting for a nursing course, students would have to be prepared to work hard.
Prospective students must have a minimum of 240 Ucas points, plus five GCSEs at grade C or above, including English language, maths and, in some cases, a specified science.
* For more information, visit www.bcu.ac.uk/health