Financial hardship fuels dropout fears among student midwives

on 30 May 2024 Scotland Student midwives Bursaries and Scholarships Education

Over a third of midwifery students in Scotland are so worried about the financial burden of their education that they struggle to sleep at night. That was the stark message Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) heard from student members of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).

The RCM Scotland Student Midwives Finance Report highlights that 70% of midwifery students had to take on additional debt to cover the cost of their studies. It also notes that three out of five midwives worry they will have to drop out of their course for financial reasons. While most students receive a bursary, it’s not nearly enough to cover their costs.

RCM Director for Scotland, Jaki Lambert, outlined the measures the RCM wants to see the Scottish Government implement to fix the crisis:

“At a time when we need to invest in the midwifery workforce in Scotland, the system needs to do more to support our future midwives. The cost of training to be a midwife in many cases is too much to bear. With over half of midwifery students considering dropping out because they can’t afford to complete their course, the bursary, which has been frozen for years, needs to be raised urgently to reflect the cost of living in 2024. Make no mistake, we need these students. In one week alone, midwives in worked cumulatively over 12000 hours extra hours just to keep services running. They desperately need support of the next generation and for them to then stay in the profession.”

Ella Bendall, student member of the RCM and, Chair of the RCM student network in Scotland who helped compile the report, told MSPs about the financial worries she faced when training to be a midwife:

“'In my time as a student midwife, I often work over sixty hours per week across university, placement, and part-time work in order to make ends meet and make sure my mortgage is paid. My experience is extremely common amongst student midwives in Scotland, and does not take into account those that also have additional caring responsibilities or have been unfairly penalised by having benefits cut just to undertake their studies. This report illuminates the fragile financial situation that Scottish student midwives face, and potentially will make a tangible difference for students in the future.”

Notes to editor:

The full report can be found here.

Other key findings of the survey are:

  • Almost 70% of midwifery students report losing their benefits once they began their training. These costs aren’t offset by the bursary they receive instead.
  • One in five students reported they were not able to claim back the full cost of getting to and from their placement, despite some travelling up to 60 miles a day to get there.

Recent RCM State of maternity report in Scotland.

Recent RCM State of Midwifery Education report.

Scottish midwives work hundreds of unpaid extra hours to keep services safe.