Postgraduate university-based degree routes in England

If you already have a degree you may be able to enter nursing, midwifery or allied health professions more quickly through a postgraduate degree route. These degrees, sometimes only two years in length, are normally either Diploma or full Masters programmes. In certain professions these routes are very common. For example, around 40% of occupational therapists qualify through this route.

The Government plans to allow postgraduate pre-registration nursing, midwifery and allied health profession students access to standard student loans from 1 August 2018. This will bring funding arrangements in line with undergraduate pre-registration courses.

Students who have already taken out a student loan will still be access another loan to study these courses. This is not the standard postgraduate student loan but the same loan as that accessed by undergraduate students to cover tuition fees and support living costs.

Will the loan cover my tuition fees?

The loan for postgraduate pre-registration students will cover fees of up to £9,250 per year. Some postgraduate pre-registration courses currently have higher fees than this because these are high cost courses. The higher education system is currently deciding whether to subsidise the difference, as it does for undergraduate degrees. If the course fees are currently higher than £9,250 we recommend you discuss this with the university.

What other support is available?

Support for childcare

Students with children can claim a £1,000 Child Dependants Allowance from the NHS Business Services Authority as well as money through the mainstream student funding system to help support childcare costs.

Support for placement costs

Students on healthcare courses spend a great deal of time on clinical placements away from the university. In some cases, this means that students need to travel longer distances than usual or even stay away from home for a period of time. Students on these courses are eligible for reimbursement of additional travel and accommodation costs over normal daily travel costs. This support is part of the Learning Support Fund administered through the NHS Business Services Authority.

Other support

In some cases students may be eligible for certain additional support through the Learning Support Fund, including up to £3,000 for exceptional hardship.

Students who are obliged to incur essential additional expenditure while undertaking a course of higher education as a result of a disability will qualify for disabled students’ allowances.

The student support system provides additional, non-repayable grants, to students with adult dependants.

Nearly all universities offer extra money in the form of scholarships or bursaries to help with the cost of going to university. These are in addition to student loans and you don’t have to pay them back. They might take the form of cash or discounted services or accommodation. Some universities also offer fee waivers that will reduce the loan that you have to pay back.

Programme and student eligibility for loans

Course type and length

These funding extend to both Masters and postgraduate diploma courses leading to inclusion in the HCPC or NMC register. Postgraduate certificate programmes are not covered. All paramedic courses are currently excluded.

The legislation covers courses of at least two years in duration. However, 18 month courses are automatically designated as two year courses, and therefore eligible for student finance, as long as they meet the requirement that students attend the course (at the institution or elsewhere) for at least 8 weeks in the final year.

I am already a healthcare professional

Students who are already registered in nursing, midwifery, or an allied health profession will not be eligible for support for a second full-time or part-time pre- registration course or a second full-time postgraduate preregistration course leading to registration in the same profession. This does not however preclude dual registration, including where this leads to qualification for a profession in a different part of the register. For example, an adult nurse could study to become a mental health nurse.

How will I repay my loan?

Postgraduate and undergraduate students will repay their student loans in the same way after finishing their studies.

Loan repayment rates depend on the borrower’s income: repayments will be 9% of income above £25,000. If your income drops below £25,000 or you take a break from work you will not pay back the loan again until you are again earning over the threshold amount. Many newly qualified professionals in the NHS earn a little under £25,000 a year so you may not start paying back your loan until sometime after you qualify.

Loans are paid back automatically out of your pay packet so you don’t have to worry about missing repayments.

This repayment arrangement applies even when you have two loans subject to ‘Plan 2 repayment terms’ (post-2012 loans). The repayment amount is simply split proportionally according to the outstanding balance of each loan.

If your first student loan was a ‘Plan 1’ loan (pre-2012) the amount you will repay to each plan will depend on your income and the terms and conditions of each loan. Detailed information can be found on the Student Loans Company website.

Remaining loan amounts from your Plan 2 loan will be written off after 30 years. This means you may never repay the full amount.

You can find out more about how the funding works on the Case studies page of the website.

Can I afford this?

There are lots of myths about student loans and people understandably worry about whether university is affordable. Make sure you get independent advice and don’t be put off before you’ve investigated the way the system works.

Learn more