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This is a guest blog, by current student Lucy Biggs who is studying BSc (Hons) Mental Health Nursing.

Open Day at Landsdowne

For as long as I can remember I knew I wanted to do a job that involved helping people and caring for them. As I matured and I found out more about mental health I couldn’t think of a job that fitted me better than to be a mental health nurse. When I applied for the course whilst in college, I couldn’t wait to finish my A levels and get going. Little did I know I would be the first year to do an NHS course without receiving the bursary!!

My years intake (September 2017) was the first year the government legislation changed for nursing students! We were the first students to go without our course tuition fees, being paid by the NHS. This meant we could apply for government loans (just like any other student studying any other course) to help with the costs of university (through Student Finance England), but we would receive no other financial support. I was so excited to start my nursing journey that I wasn’t fazed by the fees and I applied for a maintenance loan as well as a loan to pay for my course. You can find out more about these loans at www.gov.uk.

After receiving a student finance letter on how much my maintenance loan would be, I knew that I would have to budget my year in order to make sure I could survive! Like most nursing courses, mental health nursing involves 50% of my time being spent at university in lectures and the other 50% of my time being spent on placement. This meant already that my time would be stretched but I was keen to find a balance.

In my first year of university I spent time looking on the BU jobs page and kept my eye open for any flexible jobs or paid opportunities that would fit around my lectures as well as my placements. When I saw the opportunity to become a student ambassador I applied straight away. I am now an HSS student ambassador and love it! The job involves helping at Bournemouth university Open Days as well as many other things. I enjoy talking about my course because I have so many great things to say about it,  for this reason I knew that it would be a job I love. As well as really enjoying ambassador work, it is hugely flexible which mean I was easily able to fit it around my schedule.

This is what life as an ambassador looks like

Any money that I make doing flexible work I make sure that I spend it on things that I want to, like putting it towards fun days out and essentially spending it like pocket money! I made sure to budget my maintenance loan to ensure that I could make it stretch to cover boring expenses such as; travel, food, university equipment and all the things in-between (which it does). I did this by working out how much money I would receive each term and then worked out on average what I would spend on all these things. I then split this into how much I would have to spend each week of the term. In order to stop myself accidently spending too much I put my loan into a savings account and transferred my weekly budget to my account at the beginning of each week. This meant I always knew exactly how much I had to spend and never found myself in any sticky situations so would recommend anyone starting a new course to do the same!

Overall, I’d say don’t let the course fees put you off! If you are passionate about nursing and health and social sciences, then don’t let anything stop you. Like everybody else who is studying an undergraduate degree, you just pay your loan off bit by bit once you are in employment and earning over £25,725 . You can find out more about loans here. I absolutely love my course and what I do and when you are keen you can make anything work.

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