Student membership – essential cover from day one

As the largest public sector trade union with nearly half a million members working in health care, UNISON is a natural home for nursing and other AHP students.

That’s why organisers attend student inductions at universities across the country like the University of Southampton – to talk to the future of the health service and explain who we are, what we can do to support them and how we can help them on their placements.

Part of this support is helping to highlight the need for bursaries for students. As UNISON head of health Sara Gorton noted in response to December’s UCAS figures showing applications are down:

The drop in older applicants is particularly worrying. It suggests that the fear of heavy debts is putting off people who might be switching careers or have family to support. It’s really important that NHS staff reflect the communities they serve, and no one is priced out of becoming a nurse.

This is why although bursaries are gone, organisers made sure that they haven’t been forgotten. UNISON believe that the government should look at the impact of removing the bursary and organisers in Southampton made sure that for this cohort of students at least, the nursing bursary isn’t something lost to ancient history. Its removal is something that should be reconsidered.

It’s not only at university inductions that students can join UNISON. If you work in the NHS, it’s likely that you will see AHP students where you are. The students are in the work place on placement and – in a stretched NHS – subject to the same conditions as other members of staff. Just as you benefit from membership, so do they. It’s never too late to tell them about the support you receive from UNISON in the workplace and direct them to the special UNISON student application form.

As UNISON organiser Phil Hedges explained:

Students on placement are going into the workplace. Whilst we hope they’ll never need our support, many of the issues our members deal with working in a stretched NHS could affect students as well. For £10 a year they get the peace of mind of being able to get the same support as the qualified colleagues they work alongside.  

Phil outlined why it’s important that UNISON attend inductions:

It’s always interesting how many students are unaware of what a trade union is and does. Some of that is because they might not have the experience of being in an organised workplace, so it’s our role, even if they don’t join, to explain to them what our union does. It’s that education is really important.

Join UNISON as a student for £10 a year.