Student nurses who joined the frontline to help battle COVID-19 are receiving support through the University of Stirling’s partnership with Santander Universities.
As part of the UK and Scottish Government emergency response to the pandemic, almost 400 student nurses from the University volunteered to fulfil their placements as paid members of NHS staff, while continuing to work towards their degrees.
During their placements, students have received vital support from Student Support Services, the Students’ Union, and the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport. This support has been bolstered by funding received from Santander Universities, as part of its ongoing partnership with Stirling, and has led to the creation of an online support platform for third-year student nurses. As some are on placement outwith Forth Valley, the platform ensures that students – regardless of where they are working or learning – can access relevant support.
Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, said he was "incredibly proud" of Stirling's students and staff.
Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling, said: “I am incredibly proud of the response of our students and staff to the COVID-19 pandemic. Four hundred of our student nurses have joined the frontline to support the NHS and make a difference at this unprecedented and challenging time.
“We prioritise the health and wellbeing of our community and are extremely grateful to Santander Universities for providing this funding, which has helped us further enhance the support available to our student nurses on placement and others across the University.
“This donation further demonstrates the value of this important, long-standing partnership.”
The partnership with Santander Universities began in 2012 and was renewed for three further years in 2018. Over the past year, Santander Universities has provided more than £4.5 million to 85 universities across the UK. Under normal circumstances, Stirling uses the £75,000 it receives to support enterprise, employability and education initiatives. However, with COVID-19 restrictions impacting these activities, Santander generously agreed that some of the funding could be redeployed as further support for student nurses.
The new online platform provides third-year student nurses with access to the mentorship and support required to help develop coping techniques, provide peer reflection, and build resilience during challenging times. As well as allowing the students to maintain a sense of community, the programme will be adapted, in line with feedback received, and will have future applications beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funding will also be used to support the University’s Hardship Fund, supporting students who have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 situation. This includes those who incurred increased costs as a result of the travel restrictions introduced to combat the virus.
Matt Hutnell, Director of Santander Universities UK, said: “Santander is committed to supporting higher education as well as local communities across the UK, so we’re pleased that our funding is able to be redirected to where it is most needed at this critical time.
“Universities are doing some fantastic work to contribute to the UK’s effort to combat the outbreak of COVID-19, so we’re delighted to collaborate with our university partners in a way which increases their response effort. We look forward to continuing to work with them on supporting both students and the broader higher education community with further initiatives over the coming months.”