Student outrage over arbitrary cut-offs

A DUBBO nursing student is outraged over having to pay $19,000 for her TAFE course when the next intake of students are eligible for scholarships.

The May intake of nursing students at TAFE Western will benefit from 350 "fully-funded" scholarships to male and female nurse hopefuls, 150 of which will be for students outside Sydney.

Students who wish to study nursing before May, however, have been told they must pay the full course fee of $19,000.

A Dubbo nursing student, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Daily Liberal there was a "fair bit of outrage" from about 40 nursing students at Dubbo who felt it was unfair for them to pay the fees when the next group of applicants were eligible for scholarships.

"I applied for the course in October and was told in November that the NSW government could not fund the course," the woman said.

"But then I saw the story in the Daily Liberal and found out about the scholarships starting from May... Now I feel like we've been discriminated against."

The woman said she and a number of other students considered withdrawing from the course to apply for the scholarship.

"I went to the head teacher and they were vague on the details but I believe there's a shortage of endorsed nursing in NSW," she said.

"Students with a scholarship are almost guaranteed a job in the health system. It's a common goal to do this course and there are 40 odd students in Dubbo, and possibly Orange and Bathurst, who will be very angry about this. Why can't they give us the same opportunities?"

She said students had the option of benefiting from Fee Help loans to help them complete their studies.

Andrew Crowley, TAFE Western's Director of Educational Delivery for Community Services, Health, Tourism and Recreation said the NSW government last week announced it would provide $4.5 million worth of funding to offer scholarships for the Diploma of Enrolled Nursing program.

"TAFE Western is pleased to offer twenty-eight subsidised places in the program located at its Dubbo and Bathurst colleges," he said.

"Local Health Districts across our region are currently experiencing shortages of enrolled nurses and TAFE Western is committed to providing customised training which delivers pathways to employment and further education and training to meet the needs of individuals and the communities of western NSW."

A spokeswoman from NSW Health said initial enquiries of the nursing scholarship indicated demand for these scholarship places would result in the process being highly competitive.

"TAFE NSW has advised that if a student has previously applied and gained entry in other TAFE enrolled nursing programs for 2013, and now seeks to be considered for a scholarship, they will need to re-apply for the program and participate in the competitive selection process," she said.

To find out more and for an application package, visit www.health.nsw.gov.au/nursing before March 22.

A Dubbo nursing student is outraged over having to pay $19,000 for her TAFE course when the next intake of students are eligible for scholarships.

A Dubbo nursing student is outraged over having to pay $19,000 for her TAFE course when the next intake of students are eligible for scholarships.