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Students to be offered accelerated two-year degrees in a bid to reduce tuition fees

Universities claim they would still provide the same qualification, with the same amount of teaching – but condensed into a shorter time-frame.

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Students are to be offered accelerated two-year degree courses in a bid to cut tuition fees by twenty percent.

The Government has confirmed plans for universities to be able to charge higher fees for shorter, more intense courses.

The change would see a rise in the tuition fee cap and students paying around £11,000 per year for the condensed courses. However, this is around £5,500 less than an equivalent three-year course.

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Universities claim the accelerated degrees would still provide the same qualification, with the same amount of teaching – just in a shorter time-frame.

If introduced to nursing and midwifery, the two-year degree course could be structured similarly to the highly intense graduate entry qualification – completing the same 2300 hours of clinical practice and 2300 hours of academic study in much less time.

‘Greater choice for students’.

Sam Gyimah, Universities Minister, said; “Accelerated degrees not only make it possible for the next generation of students to access higher education and the undeniable financial, academic and personal benefits it has to offer but drives the sector to offer dynamic choices that serve students’ needs.

“Providers will be able to tap into a new market of students, particularly mature students and those who commute, who were previously locked out of higher education.

“This provision creates a new arena of competition that delivers for students, taxpayers and employers.”

Dr. Tim Bradshaw, Chief executive of the Russell Group, said; “Greater choice for students is always good but I would caution ministers against ‘overpromising’.

“The government’s own projection for the likely take-up of these degrees is modest and we actually hear many students calling for four-year degrees, for example, to spend a year on a work placement or studying abroad.

“I wouldn’t want disadvantaged students to rule out a traditional three-year course because they didn’t believe they could afford it.”

Plans to increase the yearly price cap on degrees is still subject to parliamentary approval.

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Professional Regulation

NMC apologises after misleading Morecambe Bay investigators

Up to 19 babies and mothers died between 2004 and 2012 as a result of mistakes by staff.

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The regulator has apologised over how it handled a Fitness to Practice investigation.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has apologised over how it handled a Fitness to Practice (FtP) investigation following the tragic death of newborn Joshua Titcombe at Morecambe Bay.

The independent review by Verita was commissioned by the NMC after the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) raised concerns over how the regulator handled the fitness to practice investigation.

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The report was initially commissioned by Jeremy Hunt, the then Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, after up to 19 babies and mothers died at the hospital between 2004 and 2012 as a result of mistakes by the staff of its maternity unit.

Jackie Smith, the former Chief Executive and Registrar of the NMC, resigned on the eve of the PSA report.

‘Incorrect and misleading statements’.

Investigators highlighted concerns over a chronology that was submitted as evidence by Joshua’s parents. They commented that they regulator failed to include the chronology in the evidence gathering process and also failed to “consider and understand the significance of this evidence and its relevance to a central issue in the case.”

The NMC then went on to make “incorrect and misleading statements” to Joshua’s parents, the PSA and the Secretary of State for Health about how it handled and reviewed the chronology.

Verita also commented that the regulator failed to treated witnesses “with the respect and sensitivity they deserved”.

Investigator on to recommend that the “NMC should make it a priority to ensure that it treats families and patients with respect and is honest and open with them” and “ensure that Panel Chairs are fully briefed about the importance of showing respect to bereaved relatives, perhaps by using this example as a case study.”

The total cost of Verita’s report was £151,742.22.

‘I am very sorry’.

Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, the current NMC Chief Executive and Registrar, said: “Throughout these fitness to practise cases the way we treated Mr Titcombe and his family was unacceptable. Our actions made an awful situation much worse and I am very sorry for that. I am also very sorry that our communications with Mr Titcombe, the PSA and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care contained incorrect and misleading information about our handling of this evidence.”

“This investigation highlights a number of failings at the NMC at that time. We did not properly understand the significance of this important piece of evidence, in particular to Mr Titcombe and his family, and we did not put it before the panel when we should have done. This reflected a culture at the NMC at that time that prioritised process over people.”

“Since the events at Morecambe Bay we have made significant changes, including much improved record keeping, the introduction of a new public support service, and additional training for panel members to help them better understand the needs of witnesses.

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Hospital charity launches Christmas gift appeal for patients

Those wishing to help the campaign can buy a gift or donate online.

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Send a smile

The Send a Smile with Santa campaign delivers presents to patients who are unable to celebrate Christmas at home.

A campaign to deliver more than 1,000 gifts for inpatients at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on Christmas Day has begun.

The N&N Hospitals Charity’s Send a Smile with Santa campaign delivers presents donated by the public to patients, both young and old, who are unable to celebrate Christmas at home with their families.

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Those wishing to help the campaign can choose an item from our Send a Smile with Santa list on Amazon or make a donation which will be used exclusively to purchase a gift.

Donations can also be dropped off by Sunday 8 December at the West Atrium Inpatient reception, Cromer Hospital, the Archant offices on Rouen Road, Norwich, and Greater Anglian Norwich Railway Station Customer Service.

The charity says that any donated presents should remain unwrapped so staff can ensure that presents are individually tailored for each patient, as well as protecting against potential infection.

‘Overwhelmed by kindness’.

Prof Nancy Fontaine, NNUH Chief Nurse, said: “We were overwhelmed by the kindness of people last year and we were able to deliver a lovely present to each of our patients.

“Nobody wants to spend time in hospital, and Christmas is so often a special time for people to be with family, and this is why we like to do something to make it a little nicer for our patients.

“We really hope that the people of Norfolk will once again support our appeal and help put a smile of the faces of our patients during the festive period.”

Louise Cook, Head of Fundraising at NNUH, added: “We know from our patients how lovely and unexpected it is to receive a gift on Christmas Day. They don’t need to be expensive gifts – toiletries, puzzle books, chocolates or socks are always greatly received.

“We have heard from people who would like to donate a gift but are unable to get out, so we this year we have an Amazon Wish List with small items which can be purchased and will be delivered directly to us, or a JustGiving page where a donation can be made and we will use that to purchase a gift for a patient.”

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