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Student diversity at risk from tuition fees, warns CSP

19 April 2016 - 3:33pm

Care must be taken that changes to the way physiotherapy courses are funded do not reduce diversity among students, the CSP has warned.

 

Black workers conference

CSP delegates to the TUC Black Worker’s Conference (left to right): Louise Thompson, Angelina Ansah, Sunitha Narayan and Myless Mwanza (Photograph by Jess Hurd)

Speaking on behalf of the society, physiotherapist Louise Thompson raised a motion on the issue at the TUC Black Workers Conference, held in London on 15-17 April.

She explained that the government’s proposal to introduce tuition fees for allied health profession courses, from 1 August 2017, could negatively impact on the intake of black and ethnic minority (BME) students.

‘It is essential that this proposal, if implemented, does not cause a reversal in the progress to ensure greater diversity within the health professions across all the protected characteristics and socio-economic backgrounds,’ said Ms Thompson.

‘Cost should not be a barrier to anyone wishing to study nursing, physiotherapy or any of the allied health professions.’

She added that it was possible that future students on these courses could have trouble ‘affording the essentials’, and that physio students often incurred extra costs due to their clinical placements.

Call to publish admission data

Delegates heard that BME students are already ‘poorly represented’ on undergraduate physiotherapy programmes, despite a government policy to increase the number of students from under-represented groups.

As a result Ms Thompson said the CSP was calling for universities to publish equality monitoring data about all their students, including non-successful applicants.

In addition the society has requested that other health unions monitor admissions data and, if necessary, challenge the government if the new system of funding is shown to reduce the diversity of course participants.

The motion was seconded by the Royal College of Midwives and passed unanimously by conference delegates.

A consultation on the government’s proposed changes is open until 30 June 2016.

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