My name is Rebecca Davis and I’m a 26-year-old postgraduate medic at the University of Liverpool (UoL) currently in my second year of study. The reason I’m here asking for your help is to allow me to continue my medical training and graduate as a doctor in July 2018.
As with anything like this, it’s difficult to ask people for help – especially financially. But having explored and exhausted all of the other avenues open to me, I felt I owed it to myself to at least give this a go.
So to start out, I’ll tell you a little about me…
I graduated from the University of Manchester in 2012 with a BSc (Hons) 1st class degree in Neuroscience with Industrial experience. Before this point, I had decided I wanted to study Medicine. This was mainly due to experiences throughout my research degree in which I came to realise that I wanted to work directly with people, making a difference in their lives and supporting them in their time of need.
I spent the time after graduating taking a Chemistry A-level, applying for the programme itself (which involved taking two costly entrance exams) and working two jobs to ensure I had as much money behind me as possible. Being a postgraduate I was applying for the graduate medicine course which is extremely competitive in the UK as it is a 4-year fast track course and is partially funded by a NHS bursary during the 2nd, 3rd and 4th years. I was lucky enough to be accepted on my first attempt on applying to medical school, onto the University of Liverpool graduate course and began my medical training in August 2014.
I think it's important to tell you at this point that my parents are both retired and have moved to Cornwall to start up their retirement dream of running a B&B by the seaside. This in itself has cost them more than anticipated and as such there isn't surplus funds to support me through another degree again!
I previously summarised all of my financing at this point, but it was quite complex so I’ve outlined this in more detail at the bottom of this page. But in short, during my first year I received a loan from the university and a bursary, and after tuition and rent I was left with £60 a week for food, bills and general living costs. Our course is much longer than any other, starting in August and ending the beginning of July so this money needed to last me the whole year.
The amount I'd set myself to live off every week was so hard to keep to with extras added in like train tickets to go home to see family and friends, the odd social occasion and buying textbooks etc. I was so miserable and stressed worrying about not being able to just meet friends because I knew it would cost me money. I stayed in most of the year working really hard because I couldn't afford to do much else. But it was extremely hard and made me doubt why I was studying medicine numerous times. I kept thinking, why have I gone back to university? Why aren't I in a full time job earning money like the rest of my friends are? Why am I putting myself through this stress and debt?
I pulled through in the end, and my first year exam results put me in the top decile for my year. But I just kept thinking, I don't know if I can do this for another 3 years, being in constant worry and stress over money as well as trying to focus on such a demanding course as medicine.
For my second year, I won’t be awarded the full student loan due to the number of years I’ve been in education and instead receive the minimum loan. Again I’ve detailed this in full below, but what it means is I’ll have £1572 less to live off this year. Since my rent has gone up to £70 a week even though I'm living in the same house, it leaves me with £2351 to live off. This amounts to £45 a week for food, bills and general living costs.
I wanted to find a part time job, but I feel like the course is just so demanding that there simply isn't enough time in the week. I have been advertising myself on UKTutors.com as a tutor in maths, English and science and I have managed to get a few jobs here and there through this, but nothing solid to support me. I’ve applied for every grant or bursary available to me, but being extremely competitive these have not worked out. My parents have helped where they can, but being retired themselves they can’t cover costs completely.
That’s why I’m asking now for your help. I am committed to completing my training and have worked so hard to get where I am, but on my current means I am barely able to scrape through each week. With your support I can hope to complete my training to become a doctor without the weight of financial struggles hanging over me on top of the pressures of the course.
Please help in any way you can, no matter how small a contribution. I promise it will make an enormous difference. I will keep this page updated with my progress, and if you wish to find out more about me and for those who’ve donated, I will happily keep you updated with my progress at university to show how you’ve helped.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and your kindness and generosity.
During my first year of the medical programme, I received the full 'means tested' maintenance loan from Student Finance England (SFE) as my parents are retired with no incomings, as well as a bursary from the UoL.
Being on the fast-track course, the NHS pays £3465 of the £9000 tuition fees, but only from the 2nd year of the course. SFE covers the remaining £5535 through a loan which is given from the first year. This meant that during the first year I had to use my savings to pay the university £3465 as there was no cover from the NHS for it.
Below is a full breakdown of all of my income for my first year:
SFE tuition fee loan: £5535
SFE means tested maintenance loan: £6563
UoL bursary: £1000
TOTAL maintenance (exlud. tuition fees): £7563
My rent was £60 a week amounting to £3120 so taking this off my total income left me with just £60 a week for food, bills and general living costs.
During the second year (this year) I don’t receive a 'means tested' loan from SFE like I did last year because they do not cover students after a certain number of years of education. Instead I get the minimal amount of £2324 from them because the rest is supposed to be funded by the NHS bursary. The NHS bursary is also 'means-tested' and this year they have decided to give me £3667 and have even stated on the letter what they think my parents should be giving me. As my parents are retired on state pensions trying to set up a B&B this is not within their means. Below is the letter I received from the NHS bursary detailing my amount:
The UoL bursary is only entitled to specific students during their first year so I didn't get that this year either. Therefore, altogether I am receiving £5991 to live off this year which is £1572 less than last year.