The prospect of high student debt and increased pension contributions could discourage young people from entering medicine, [Tom Dolphin, of the British Medical Association] has warned.
Areas to think about:
- Are you worried about the prospect of higher tuition fees?
- Has it discouraged you from applying to medicine?
TUITION FEE FACTS (summary information provided courtesy of GeMS – Get into Medical School):
- Medical schools charge £9,000 per annum. The amount is reduced for poorer students through the provision of bursaries.
- From your fifth year, the NHS Student Bursary Scheme covers your tuition fees. At this stage, you’re also eligible for means-tested NHS bursaries to cover maintenance costs and a reduced maintenance loan from the Student Loans Company’s Student Finance England subsidiary.
- You pay nothing upfront. For new undergraduates, Student Loan Company loans automatically pay your tuition fees. Here’s more info about the loans:
- You can opt not to take the loans, in which case you’re responsible for paying your own fees.
- You can repay loans early if you want to.
- You only start repaying loans from the April after graduation at the earliest, no matter how long your course.
- Loans are repaid through the income tax system; repayments appear on your salary slip, reducing your post-tax income.
- The amount you repay per month depends solely on your income (9 per cent of the part of your pre-tax salary above £21,000 per annum), not on the amount you borrow. That threshold is index-linked and so rises over time with inflation.
- Interest is charged on your loan, with an index-linked element. The precise rate depends on your income, but is generally 3 per cent above the rate of inflation for most doctors after their first few years’ practice.
- You stop repayments when you’ve repaid the loan (plus interest) or after 30 years, whichever comes first.
- The Devolved Administrations differ in the detail of how and whether they charge their students.
The fairest summary is that medicine is still an affordable degree, but you end up repaying more over time, depending on the salary you earn. You still get a very highly subsidised education but not quite as subsidised as it was under the old system.
If you have the talent and desire to be a doctor, don’t let the potential cost put you off medicine!