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Government waives proposed fees for final year medical students

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.315.7112.831m (Published 04 October 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:831
  1. Jessica Westall
  1. BMJ

    Final year medical students in England will not have to pay tuition fees, after a partial concession by the British government. Medical students will, however, have to pay the planned £1000 ($1600) a year fee for the first four years of their course, in line with most other students, from 1998.

    The health secretary, Frank Dobson, also announced that the NHS will meet the costs of tuition for nursing and midwifery students, who will continue to receive a non-means tested bursary. The NHS will also give bursaries to hard up students in their final years at medical school.

    The announcement comes at the same time as a £165m package for higher education designed to deflect criticism of the Labour government's proposals before its party conference. The package includes £40m to be used to encourage disadvantaged students to go to university.

    The concessions made for final year medical students follow months of lobbying by the BMA. In an open letter to David Blunkett, the education secretary, Dr Sandy Macara, chairman of the BMA council, said that final year students leave owing an average of £6758-nearly twice the debt of the average student. He pointed out that clinical medical students had less time to supplement their income through part time work and had higher than average costs for travel, textbooks, and equipment.

    Derek McLaughlan, chairman of the BMA's medical students committee, said that the government had gone some way to addressing the special problems facing student doctors, but it was not enough to ensure a good breadth of social class in students entering medical school. “The good news is that all students, including mature graduates, will get their fees paid from year five. The down side is the financial struggle to get to the final years.”

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