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Students' and families' expenditures to attend a nursing programme in 2011–2012: a comparison of five southern European countries




To compare students' and families' nursing education expenditures across Europe.


Nursing education costs are affected by investments in public education. The remaining costs fall on the shoulders of students and their families. While remaining somewhat understudied, public and student expenditure for nursing education is becoming critical in the current crisis context. Comparative studies on education costs are inevitably affected by a currency bias. Therefore, a standard measure named the Purchasing Power Standard, which has received no attention in nursing research, has been introduced.


A mixed-method study incorporating qualitative and quantitative study designs was undertaken in 2011–2012.


Five nursing faculties located in the Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Slovakia and Slovenia were included in the study. A questionnaire evaluating students' expenditures was developed in five languages and validated. Six hundred and twenty-five full-time students were recruited.


A Slovakian student wishing to pursue a nursing career is required to commit an amount of money per year that corresponds to 15% of the average annual income of a Slovakian citizen. Lower percentages were required by students in Greece (10%), Italy (11%) and Slovenia (12%), while Czech students bore the lowest costs (5%).


None of the countries involved was supporting nursing students through either direct or indirect financial incentives. Students in some countries were also required to buy and maintain uniforms. There is a need to develop supportive policies, especially in those countries where nursing programmes are expensive and may not be accessible to all talented and motivated students due to limited public support in education and the current economic context.