‘We will pay their entire HECS debt’: Free uni degrees for Victorian nurses, midwives
The Victorian government is offering to pay for the degrees of more than 10,000 nursing and midwifery students as part of a $270 million initiative to help boost staffing across the state’s strained health system.
Under the five-year program, all new domestic students entering nursing courses in 2023 and 2024 in Victoria will receive a scholarship of $16,500 to cover the cost of the degree.
Students will receive $9000 while they study and the remaining $7500 if they work in Victorian public health services for two years.
Domestic nursing students who enter their courses in 2023 and 2024 will be eligible for a $16,500 scholarship to pay for their HECS if they stay in the public health system.
Scholarships will also be provided to 150 postgraduate midwifery students, to assist them to continue working as nurses while they study.
“We will pay their entire HECS debt,” Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters at the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) office in Melbourne on Sunday.
Under the plan, further scholarships will be provided for enrolled nurses to become registered nurses, with funding available for post-graduate nurses to start specialty studies in areas such as intensive care, emergency, paediatrics and cancer care.
Andrews said additional funding would mean more than 20,000 current and future nurses in Victoria will have their university courses funded or be upskilled.
“All the roles in our health system are critically important, but giving people a pathway and giving people that sense of progression is critically important as well,” he said.
“We do know that cost can be a barrier to people undertaking that further study.
“Year 11 and 12 students who are thinking about what they might like to do as a career, they can choose nursing, free of charge, a full scholarship covering every dollar of their HECS.”
Shadow health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier said the opposition would match the nursing and midwifery funding pledge, drawing sarcastic applause from gathered ANMF workers when the news was relayed.
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