Student experience

Explore what employers can do to better support their students on placement.

14 February 2024

The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan aims to ensure the NHS has the workforce it needs for the future. It highlights the need to grow the workforce by significantly expanding domestic education, training and recruitment. 

The National Education and Training Survey 2022 and the National Training Survey 2023 showcase the need to support students on placement. They identified the following themes: 

  1. Students are positive about the quality of training, supervision and the innovations introduced to support training post COVID-19. Overall experience of education has declined with nearly a quarter not recommending their placement. 
  2. Two thirds of trainees are at moderate or high risk of burnout and 35 per cent of students are considering leaving their course.
  3. Data on micro-aggressions, bullying and harassment are worrying. A third of students are not able to access appropriate health and wellbeing support. 

Providing a supportive environment while students are on placement enables them to thrive and want to continue their career in the NHS once qualified. 

Feeling valued 

When hosting a student, it is vital that they feel as valued and supported as any other member of the team. One of the reasons that apprenticeships are so successful in an organisation is that the apprentices develop a strong working relationship with their colleagues, creating a cohesive environment. Efforts should be made to ensure that students feel part of the team, despite their short time with the trust. Student feedback is generally more positive when they are treated as part of the team. The examples below explore some of the ways to ensure that students feel valued and supported.

  • This case study outlines how Team Leeds Hearts and Minds Health and Care Collaboration supports students in health and care by offering mentorship programmes, work-based learning opportunities, and access to training and resources. It brings together multiple organisations to provide a comprehensive approach to student support. It received positive feedback from students and helped them realise their potential and understand their future career options.   
  • Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust  explores how best to support T Level students, particularly those who are under eighteen. They identified that paying students whilst hosting them on industry placements has been a great part of their success. To do this they enrolled them into their flexi-team, the team responsible for bank staff, during their placement. The trust provided and structured a supportive environment for students to harness their skills. They also offered multiple avenues of pastoral support to the students, through the college, the practice education team, or a named colleague on the ward. 


A robust mentorship programme is essential for the development and integration of placement students. Mentorship programmes enhance students’ confidence in new roles and helps them have a good experience, which can lead to future recruitment and increasing workforce supply.   

Financial advice

It is important to help students understand available funding streams and to support their financial wellbeing.  

In addition to the tuition fee loan and maintenance loan, further financial support may be available to pre-registration students from the NHS Business Service Authority, operating on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care. 

  • Through the NHS Learning Support Fund, eligible students can apply for a range of financial support including a training grant of £5,000 per academic year, parental support of £2,000 for applicants with dependents under 15 years old (17 years old for children with special educational needs), money back for excess travel and temporary accommodation costs whilst on placement.  
  • Students who experience unforeseen financial hardship can apply to the exceptional support fund. This can provide eligible students with up to £3,000 per academic year provided they can evidence an unavoidable shortfall between spending and income. Students may only apply to this fund once they have exhausted the financial support offered by their university.  
  • In September 2023, the UK government increased the financial support offered to healthcare students with immediate effect. Including a 50 per cent increase in travel and accommodation reimbursements and the means-testing threshold for the NHS Bursary Scheme increased.  

  • Medical and dental students can apply for an NHS bursary  to support living costs. This bursary is only available for undergraduate students in the fifth or sixth year of their course, or those in their second year onwards on a three or four year graduate entry course. 

To find out more about specific student finance available for those on placement access the UK government website.  

  • Download our infographic to help explain how student finance works to prospective undergraduate healthcare students. It provides a breakdown of the available financial support for students and explains the repayment process.  
  • We have also published guidance focused on supporting those in health and social care with the rising cost of living. This is not targeted specifically at students but contains examples of good practice that can be valuable to any staff member working in the sector.  

Good practice examples:

Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust provide free car parking for their students on placement.

Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust ensure that students are included in all benefits that employees get in the trust.

Mental health support 

Placements can be a challenging time for students, as they are exposed to new environments and situations that may be overwhelming. Providing adequate support for their mental health and wellbeing can help them overcome barriers and maximise their learning potential.  

  • This framework sets out clear actionable steps and guidance to supporting staff to feel well, healthy and happy at work.  
  • The NHS Staff Survey 2022 results indicate that staff, including placement students are experiencing high levels of burnout. This guidance outlines practical tips on beating burnout and embedding protective factors that can help prevent poor mental health in the workplace.  
  • University of South Wales has developed a number of learning resources to support students through the placement process, including a placement wellbeing guide.  
  • The government website has a list of considerations for employers to better support the mental health and wellbeing of students on T Level industry placements.  
  • The Student Mental Health Evidence Hub is a free resource which includes an evidence toolkit, student perspectives, project resources, examples of practice and evaluation guidance. 

Good practice example:

Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust provides a package for all students in the area including a freshers week animation. This highlights where to go to access services, including 24/7 urgent mental health phone lines, and the website gives information on walk-in centres around the city.

“Living in a new area or city is difficult enough, so we’ve made it easier for all our new students to know how to access our services during their stay in Merseyside.” – Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust

Feeling secure in the workplace 

Employers need to create a safe environment where students and staff can speak up without fear of being judged, criticised or ridiculed. It is important to put in place anti-bullying and anti-racist policies to help prevent any type of harassment or victimisation in the workplace. Below are some tools and examples of how to proactively create an inclusive culture and tackle discrimination in the workplace:   

  • Dare to CARE (Creating an Anti-Racist Environment) was created by the School of Health and Social Care at the University of Essex as a valuable resource to help tackle racism in the workplace. This project can support staff who may be experiencing racism in their workplace, or for those who wish to offer allyship.  
  • North East London NHS Foundation Trust introduced an employee assistance programme, offering support and information on money worries, childcare, legal and social issues. The programme also promotes positive behaviours such as eliminating any form of discrimination and bullying.  
  • The University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust upskilled existing support workers to support students on placements. They also provide an allocated education lead to provide pastoral support, reflecting their belief in the importance of welcoming and supporting students.
  • NHS Employers has resources to help tackle bullying in the workplace and top tips for supporting a psychologically safe workplace.

Good practice example: 

At Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust the wellbeing lead makes a presentation about the support offered by the trust and signposts to the resources available for students. Individual support about wellbeing is also available on an ad hoc basis. 

Pre-registration nurse attrition and transition portal 

The NHS England workforce, education and training team created a resource for education institutes and employers, addressing the issues with pre-registration attrition in student nursing. It features practical resources such as workforce strategies, career support, funding and support guidance from across the country, from health and care experts, employers and universities.   

The portal is hosted on the FutureNHS platform, an online collaboration space that welcomes everyone in health and care. It's a free space for secure collaboration across different organisations. If you have any questions, please email