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Daniel Andrews promises free degrees for some students

Thousands of budding nurses and midwives will have their university debts paid off in a fresh proposal to boost workforce numbers.

The Victorian government on Sunday announced it would spend $270 million to recruit and train thousands of new nurses and midwives under the scheme.

Under the program, new domestic students enrolling in a professional-entry nursing and midwifery course over the next two years would receive a scholarship to cover course costs.

Students will receive $9000 over the first three years of study and the remaining $7500 would be paid off if they work in the Victorian public health services for two years.

The premier announced the funding on Sunday.
Camera IconThe premier announced the funding on Sunday. Credit: News Corp Australia

“If you’re in Year 12 and you’ve been thinking about studying nursing or midwifery – go for it. We’ve got your HECS fees covered,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.

“Every health system in the country is under enormous pressure due to the pandemic.

“The best thing we can do to support our hardworking staff is give them more support on the ground – that’s why this package will train and hire more nurses than ever before.”

Scholarships will also be provided to nurses studying postgraduate courses in speciality areas, for enrolled nurses to upskill to become registered nurses and for those considering further study to become nurse practitioners.

Camera IconThe opposition has matched the promise. NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw – POOL via NCA NewsWire Credit: News Corp Australia

Opposition health spokesperson Georgie Crozier quickly announced the Liberals would match the plan but was critical of the timing of the announcement.

“Daniel Andrews has had eight years to do this and has failed to do anything,“ Ms Crozier said.

“This government is bereft of ideas and are coming at this late time to make an announcement.”

Health has emerged as a major battleground with both leaders pushing the message ahead of November’s state election.

The Coalition has pledged to spend billions on the health system if elected, including moving funding committed to the suburban rail loop to health care.

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