After months of deliberation and restless anticipation, the University of Edinburgh has agreed to provide additional funding to subsidize transport for medical students.
This decision comes about following a petition and survey organized by Medical School Convener Ronan Murphy in August.
The petition contained over 730 signatures and urged for more affordable transport to be granted for medical students. It was submitted to Timothy O’Shea, Principal of the University of Edinburgh.
In light of this topic, there have been difficulties experienced by university students with their daily travelling. For example, currently, students are only permitted to use the free NHS shuttle bus between 9.00am – 4.00pm, a relatively vacant period in which most medical students are not attending class and therefore cannot use the service.
From the perspective of a first year medical student, Luke Dardis told The Student: “The free shuttle bus offered is extremely handy. But since we normally finish class at 5pm, the shuttle stops running and this means we have to catch a cab back to halls. This costs around £6, which is a lot for a university student to spend on travel each time.”
As set out in the terms of the petition, the extended funding from the University will enable medical students to enjoy many benefits. Beginning Monday November 10, medical students will be able to use the shuttle bus at any time.
They will be given equal access similar to all NHS staff. If traffic during peak times contributes to further overcrowding, the University will be willing to fund a larger bus to maintain convenient and efficient service.
In addition, the University will also be providing an annual allowance of £100 for fourth and fifth year medical students to finance the transport costs of reaching their placements, which often take place outside the city.
Thus, the overall changes in funding are seen as a worthwhile investment that will save students both cost and time in terms of travelling to and from locations.
Murphy seems to agree, as he commented: “I’m delighted with this great news, which comes after really productive negotiations with the University, the Medical School and EUSA. I hope this is just one major step in an ongoing collaboration to improve the medical student experience.”
Moreover, Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) will launch a transport campaign survey this month written by external campaign representatives and students who have concerns over the transport provisions offered on their campus.
The campaign has been supported by EUSA President Briana Pegado, who stated: “This is a brilliant outcome for the Medical School.
“This summer, a survey of medical students showed that many were having difficulty financing their travel to classes and placements, and I am delighted to see that they will now be more supported in this.
“We will be continuing to look into transport provision in other schools as we know that other students are still facing a number of issues related to travel.”