30/10/2008

Medical Students' Grant Cut Slammed

Medical student leaders have attacked the Government's decision to cut financial support to thousands of students in England from next year.

The changes announced this week in a written Parliamentary answer by the Universities Secretary John Denham, will see reductions in the number of students who will be able to receive annual financial grants.

The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills estimates that 10% of the university population could be affected - some 35,000 to 40,000 students.

Commenting on the announcement, Tim Crocker-Buque, Chairman of the BMA's Medical Student Committee, said: "These changes will affect many students whose families are likely to already be struggling in today's testing economic climate.

"Students studying in most disciplines will suffer as a result of this decision, but medical students, whose courses are longer and more expensive than their colleagues, will be hit especially hard.

"Medical graduates already leave university on average with over £20,000 worth of debt.

"Taking away basic financial support will push more medical students into heavy debt and could act as a significant deterrent to those wanting to become a doctor in the future," he said, noting that this is also yet another change to the structure of student finance that will make the process even more complicated for prospective students.

"Higher education policy, which has already seen the introduction of variable top up fees, is now in real danger of preventing able and talented people from fulfilling their potential as doctors because they are unable to afford the cost of undertaking medical training," he said.

(BMcC)

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