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NHS Student Bursary [England] - updated for 2017

The NHS bursary has changed for new students starting a health-related degree from August 2017 onward. See how this affects the funding available to you...

The NHS bursary: a history lesson and how it’s changed

The NHS bursary - as provided by the National Health Service Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) - previously covered tuition fees, as well as support towards day-to-day living costs, for students studying a pre-registration course in nursing, midwifery or related health field e.g. :

  • Dietetics
  • Occupational therapy
  • Orthoptics
  • Orthotics and prosthetics
  • Physiotherapy
  • Podiatry/chiropody
  • Radiography (diagnostic and therapeutic)
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Operating department practitioner

This bursary did not need to be paid back. 

However, following government announcements in 2016, the NHS bursary will no longer be available to new students beginning their course from August 2017. 

Instead, the bursary will be replaced by the same system of tuition fees and maintenance loans that students studying non-health related degrees apply through. 

Support for medicine and dentistry students will remain the same.

Not a new student? Skip down to see how current students will be affected...

NHS bursary for new students

First of all, you are classified as a ‘new student’ if you are beginning a course in one of the fields above, either...:

  • for the first time on 1 August 2017 or afterwards;
  • on 1 August 2017 or later, having withdrawn from or abandoned a previous higher education course in the 2016/17 academic year or an earlier academic year;
  • on 1 August 2017 or later, as a full time student, having transferred from a previous part-time course or full-time distance learning course which started before 1 August 2017.

If you are a new student, you will now need to apply for student finance as you would if you were studying a non-healthcare related subject. See how you should apply for this - including information about repayments and other funding - in our finance guides for students in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Deferred students

If you applied to a course that began in the 2016/17 year, but you deferred to September 2017, you will be affected by these changes to the NHS Bursary.

However if you started a course in the 2016/17 year, and then had to defer for a significant reason (e.g. maternity leave or illness), you will continue under the old system. Skip down to our advice for 'current students'. 

Part-time students

As part of transitional arrangements in place for funding, there will be maintenance bursaries available to students beginning a part-time course in 2017/18. 

However, the number of these will be capped and only available at a small number of universities. You'll also need to satisfy particular criteria. Students who receive one of these capped places can apply for a tuition fee loan too.

Learn more about these capped places and how to apply on the NHSBSA site.

Students studying their second degree

If you already have a degree but plan to pursue a second degree in nursing, midwifery or another health-related subject, you’ll have access to student loans through the student loans system.

Medicine and dentistry students

There are no plans to change the current grant system for students studying medicine or dentistry.

Will there be any additional funding available?

In light of these changes to the NHS bursary, the Learning Support Fund has been set up to help students with costs incurred from the compulsory clinical placements that are a part of nursing, midwifery and other health courses.

What is the Learning Support Fund?

Some funding will be available to those students with child dependants; in cases of severe hardship; and where excess travel and extra accommodation expenses have been incurred as part of placements. 

Students must meet the following criteria to apply:

  • usually live in England
  • be studying on an eligible programme at a university in England
  • be in receipt, or accepted for, a student loan be actively involved in training, whether academic or practice

Details about these will be made public in the near future by the NHSBSA - we’ll update this page as we hear more.

Other funding available

There may be a number of grants available to help you with living costs while studying, based on individual factors e.g. if you have dependants, or a disability. Plus, you don't need to pay these back! Our finance guides for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have more information about these.

You should also check directly with universities to learn about specific funding (e.g. scholarships, bursaries, fee waivers) they offer to their students.

How current students will be affected

You are classified as a 'current student' or 'continuing student' if you have received an NHS bursary for your current course in the past, or if you’re applying for a subsequent year. If this applies to you, then good news! You’ll continue to be eligible to receive the bursary for the duration of your course.

You still need to re-apply online to the NHSBSA for your NHS bursary each year, providing all necessary supporting evidence. 

The NHSBSA will email you to let you know when you can start applying, as well as the deadline to get your application in by. 

You can apply using your existing Bursary Online Support System (BOSS) account.

Get more information for current students on the NHSBSA site, including how to apply, additional funding and application windows.


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