University of Bedfordshire nursing and midwifery students facing ‘significant financial strain’ after loan payment dates changed

University of Bedfordshire campus in Bedford. Picture: Tony MargiocchiUniversity of Bedfordshire campus in Bedford. Picture: Tony Margiocchi
University of Bedfordshire campus in Bedford. Picture: Tony Margiocchi
Nursing and midwifery students at the University of Bedfordshire have described their financial struggles after loan payment dates to help cover costs were changed.

Nikki Routledge, a first-year student midwife, said she has considered leaving the course due to money worries she is facing after the dates were moved – meaning the money had to stretch for two months longer than in the previous year.

She said: “I quit my job to start this process. I didn't realise how difficult it would be financially when [the university] are putting this barrier up for us.

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"I don't want to lose what is my dream job due to finances because if it carries on the way it does, I will need to think about what I do.”

Maintenance loans are funding to help students with day-to-day costs – like travelling to work placements – while studying, and are paid directly to the students.

Each year the Student Loan Company sets the payment schedule based on course start and end dates given to it by universities.

But due to the nature of the nursing and midwifery courses, the students spend a large part of the academic year in health care settings like hospitals, meaning course dates don’t line up with other subjects.

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Nikki says she and her peers have been put under “significant financial strain” after being left waiting six months between payments. Last year, the students were paid in September, January and April, but for the 2023/24 academic year, the final instalment is now in June.

The 36-year-old has a young family and has been working 12-hour shifts in hospital. She explained: “It's really difficult and we’re passionate but [the university] is not making it easy.

"The year-two students were paid in April. So why have you gone and changed it to make it even harder for us? It's unbelievable.”

And she says she isn’t the only one struggling to pay her childcare costs.

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She said: “There's quite a few single parents on my course in and throughout the various cohorts of Nursing and Midwifery.

"And one of the women told me at the weekend that she couldn't even afford to get herself to her exam.”

Nikki has now lodged complaints with student union representatives and department heads.

A University of Bedfordshire spokesperson said: “Payments come directly from the Student Loan Company, and the loan instalment dates are set to the University's academic calendar.

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"We are working with the SLC on how to bring the loan payment dates forward, but we have been advised that this is not possible for this academic year.”

The spokesperson added: “The amount of money a student receives has not changed.

"However, we absolutely recognise the financial hardship the change in payment dates will have caused some of our students and advise them to contact our Student Money Advice team for help and support.

"This includes help with applying for our student hardship fund.”