Of late, nursing academics have been with a strong intent that they are still “reeling” from the significant drop in applications since the government replaced nursing bursaries with loans. Universities have hit out at government plans to rank their academic teaching according to how much their graduates earn. On the future workforce in various NHS hospitals, they are urging ministers to think hard about the impact of their education policies.
Ministers now plan to assess teaching quality at subject level, placing a new emphasis on graduate salaries. According to which the reward excellence and expose universities and courses where teaching isn’t up to scratch. The government’s controversial teaching excellence framework (Tef), launched last summer, already gives universities a gold, silver or bronze ranking.
Nick Petford Statement
Nick Petford, vice-chancellor of Northampton University, in a statement, said, “We have no control over what a nurse gets paid. But we are rightly proud to help provide the great nurses with the country needs.”. He also added, “It would be beyond ridiculous to link teaching excellence with salaries for institutions graduating workers into a public sector, where pay is capped by the government,” he says. “
The new policy has been enabled by the launch of the government’s experimental dataset, which is the first of its kind to track graduates into the workplace, using information from different government departments.
“No matter how well-intentioned if used crudely as a comparator, the data could destabilise the system and put some courses at risk,” Petford said. He further added, “If you seriously believe university X is better than university Y based on graduate salaries you will by default be favouring those who educate vets and bankers over those who train dementia nurses and primary school teachers.”
The practical thing for me to do if I want a Tef gold is to close nursing and social care and recruit a load of lawyers. I think it will be incredibly socially regressive is what the head of another university, who asked to remain anonymous had to say.
Similarly, feelings are running high at the University of the West of England in Bristol, which trains large numbers of students for careers in nursing, social work, para-medicine and the police force. Steve West, the vice-chancellor, says: “Many will start their careers in public services where salaries have been suppressed for years and career progression has been squeezed. Many will be keeping our hospitals, schools and social services open.
The Department for Education said wages in nursing were above the average for 25- to 29-year-olds, according to data from the Office for National Statistics and that the new rankings would take a range of measures into account, not only graduate salaries.