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The News Line: Feature MEDICAL STUDENTS WILL GRADUATE WITH DEBTS OF £70,000 – BMA ARM is told
BMA delegates voting at their Annual Representative Meeting in Bournemouth
The British Medical Association Annual representative meeting in Bournmouth on Monday gave its support to medical students who have been hit hard by trippling tuition fees, lack of jobs on graduation, and the attack on pensions.

Addressing the conference, Medical Student Committee co-chair Marion Matheson said: ‘This year medical students have seen massive changes directly affecting us and those who follow as the youngest part of our profession.

‘From the Health and Social Care Act (2012) to the government’s unjust attack on our future pensions, to a brand new Foundation Programme application system, the Medical Students Committee has been advocating lobbying and fighting for our own generation of medical students and the generations that will follow’.

She added: ‘This year the Medical Students Committee has done what we could never have imagined – made pensions a crucial topic amongst medical students.

‘As a group, we will be the worst affected by the government’s unfair and unnecessary changes.
‘Not least as our new students will graduate with debts of £70,000 thanks to the hike in tuition fees.’

She concluded: ‘Doctors, thank you for fighting for our future pensions. We are here to support you in any way possible and we recognise the great sacrifices you are making for our future.

‘You are fighting not only for your pensions, but for the generations to come and we urge you to continue to fight for our NHS pension scheme which is already fair, affordable and sustainable.’

Medical Students Committee Co-chair Elly Pilvachi told the meeting: ‘We have also seen medical students face new challenges.

‘For the first time over subscription to the Foundation Programme is considered the norm.

‘In the future it is almost inevitable that we will see students graduating but with no job and subsequently with no GMC (General Medical Council) registration.

‘The UK government needs to address this unacceptable potential waste of the talent and skills of UK medical graduates who have already dedicated five years of their lives to work in the NHS and will be denied that dream.

‘This is a thoughtless waste of the government’s great financial investment into the education and training of tomorrow’s doctors and only makes the 300% increase in university tuition fees seem all the more ridiculous.

‘Students are now facing unprecedented financial hardships.

‘Medicine already struggles to attract students from low income backgrounds and we are deeply concerned that spiralling costs will place insurmountable barriers in front of young people, with the talent, but not the bank balance, to become doctors.’

The meeting voted unanimously for motion 170, moved by Dr Andrew Mowat from East Midlands Regional Council.

This stated: ‘That this meeting is appalled at the errors made by the Student Loans Company and Student Finance England in mistakenly awarding tuition fee loans to students doing Medicine as a second degree, and then later deducting the payment from the universities’.

The Motion concerns the fact that graduate students are not allowed a second tuition fee loan to study medicine and have to find the money themselves.

‘We call for; (i) Council to lobby for parliamentary investigation into the errors; and (ii) Universities to give students more time to settle their fees in the event of such error coming to light.’

Dr Mowat said that the least they could do is give the students more time.

Supporting the Motion medical student Mr Michael Kemp said: ‘To have money snatched back could put an end to a promising career.

‘The fault is with the Student Loan Company and they should sort it out.’

The meeting went on to vote unanimously for Motion 171 on the Medical Students Finance Sub-Committee which stated: ‘That this meeting (i) Notes that the increase in tuition fees in 2012 places an increased strain on medical students through increased debts; (ii) Believes that the majority of graduate students who wish to undertake a five or six year medical degree will be unable to afford to do so, as they will have to pay £9 thousand pounds of fees upfront in years 1-4; (iii) Mandates the MSC (Medical Students Committee) to lobby for an affordable fee arrangement that allows graduates access to five year medical courses.’

Moving the motion Mrs. Natalie Barclay-Kingle said: ‘This year sees the first intake of students paying £9,000 fees.

‘Graduate students face paying that money upfront.

‘A large number of graduate students are only taken on a 5-6 year course making it financially impossible.’

She said that the situation is ‘putting thousands of students off’.

Speaking for the motion Rachel Peck told the conference: ‘Being a graduate medical student on a standard five year medical course can be tough for a number of reasons.

‘Principally, in regards to finance. The current system requires that we must pay our tuition fees upfront for the first four years before being eligible for an NHS bursary in our fifth and, if relevant, sixth year of study.

‘This already places a significant financial burden on us, and although we can apply for a reduced maintenance loan, unlike our under graduate peers, we are not eligible to apply for a tuition fee loan from the Student Loan Company.

‘Students currently manage by rallying on pre-existing savings, part time jobs and, if fortunate enough, donations from family members.

‘In addition, the withdrawal of many of the Professional Development Loans, whereby students could borrow money and defer payment until they graduate, which means that now more then ever students are left to fend for themselves.

‘Students from lower socio-economic backgrounds who are not able to rely on financial support from family members will be particularly affected.’

She concluded: ‘The average cost of living as a student per year is £10,607 outside of London and £11,697 within London.

‘This means that the cost of being a medical student from 2012 is going to be approximately £19,607 per year for students attending a university outside of London and £20,697 for students at university within London.’
 
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