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Midwife students saved at 11th hour

PUBLISHED: 15:26 09 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:28 07 September 2010

AN eleventh hour U-turn by the government has meant a group of midwifery students in Highgate can finally embark on their chosen careers. The future for the Middlesex University students, who are based on Highgate Hill s Archway campus and train at the Wh

AN eleventh hour U-turn by the government has meant a group of midwifery students in Highgate can finally embark on their chosen careers.

The future for the Middlesex University students, who are based on Highgate Hill's Archway campus and train at the Whittington Hospital, looked in doubt after the Department of Health changed funding rules for their diploma course.

When they turned up for the start of term last month, students were told their expected bursaries - worth up to £6,000 a year - were no longer guaranteed after a new means-tested system had been introduced without their knowledge.

With their grants in doubt, tears were shed as many faced up to the possibility of having to forget their career plans. But after the Ham&High contacted the university, the Department of Health made a U-turn this week.

Dr Kay Caldwell, head of the Institute of Nursing and Midwifery at Middlesex, welcomed the change of heart. She said: "The news that the non-means tested NHS Bursary will be re-instated for students who began the diploma in higher education midwifery (advanced) at Middlesex University in September 2008 is very welcome. We are also pleased that the Department of Health moved to rectify the situation so quickly."

Confusion in the funding arrangements arose when the Department of Health changed the midwifery course to degree level rather than diploma, which meant non-means tested bursaries were no longer available.

But students were not told of the changes, prompting the university to step in and offer the future midwifes loans of £1,000 to see them through.

One student, who wished to remain anonymous, said she and many others panicked when they heard the news.

"A lot of people were crying about it because they had already spent a lot of money on books for the course," she said.

"Everyone was very angry and very disappointed because many of them lived at home with parents and would probably not have been given any money. A lot of them thought about quitting because they could not afford it."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "The non-means tested NHS Bursary will be re-instated for students who began the diploma in higher education midwifery (advanced) course at Middlesex University in September 2008, therefore no student will lose out due to the re-designation of this NHS funded course."

The spokesman also said the Department of Health was considering reviewing funding for all the nursing courses throughout the country.

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