London University medical students held a day of action on Monday in a bid to win an increased student loan for medical, dental and veterinary students, who they say are suffering increasing hardship, writes Olga Wojtas.
They are seeking an extra Pounds 1,000 per year to cover their extended teaching year, and are fighting against the customary reduction in loan for final-year students.
Hannah Seymour, medical students officer for the University of London Union, said: "We don't especially agree with student loans, but it's better than borrowing from our banks."
Medical students faced particular financial difficulties as their courses were longer, and there was no vacation in which to earn extra income, she said. Final-year students worked continuously for 38 weeks without a holiday. Special equipment needed for courses could be expensive and students often had to travel further during their course than their non-medical counterparts.
Ms Seymour said medical students had a good track record in repaying and were almost certain to be employed after qualifying.
The students handed in a petition to 10 Downing Street as part of their campaign, but Ms Seymour added that the day of action was also aimed at informing the Labour Party of medical students' specific needs at a time when it was drawing up its policy for the next election. Students also lobbied their own MPs at the House of Commons.