Demand for university nursing places falls

Demand for university nursing places falls amid fears next generation of NHS angels are being deterred from the job

  • Chief exec of Royal College of Nursing says: ‘These figures are damning’ 
  • Read more: NHS salary: Are UK nurses paid more than those in Europe?

Nursing applications at British universities are down by nearly 20 per cent.

A total of 596,590 students applied to all undergraduate courses by the January deadline – 2.3 per cent less than last year, according to Ucas, the body that handles applications.

However, interest in nursing courses fell by 18.6 per cent compared with January 2022, while applicants to education teaching courses went down by 15.6 per cent.

Pat Cullen, general secretary and chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘These figures are damning for the Government. Not only are they losing record nurses from the NHS but they are… deterring the next generation.’

During the pandemic, applications to study nursing surged. 

But Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute think-tank, said recent strike action by nurses ‘highlighted the pressures endured by those in the profession’.

Interest in nursing courses fell by 18.6 per cent this January compared with January 2022

He added: ‘The decline in mature learners may also partly reflect the fact that the labour market is so tight at the moment, as there is less incentive to leave the labour market to study.

‘Education also tends to be counter-cyclical in that people are less likely to enter teaching when other sectors have lots of vacancies. The shortage of people training to be teachers should be regarded as a national crisis.’

Overall, the number of 18-year-old school and college leavers in the UK applying to undergraduate courses has fallen slightly this year – down 1.8 per cent on the same point last year.

A total of 314,660 18-year-olds from across the UK had applied to courses, but Ucas said this year’s figure was the ‘second highest on record’ and it was higher than the pre-pandemic figure of 275,300 in January 2020.

READ MORE: DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Strike out waste in our bloated NHS


The number of mature applicants from the UK has also fallen by 14 per cent compared with last year, which is mostly due to a decrease in nursing course demand, Ucas said.

By contrast, interest in apprenticeships has risen by 8.7 per cent compared with January last year.

Ucas chief executive Clare Marchant said polling of students suggests that ‘cost of living factors’ are making applicants re-evaluate their choice of subject.

She said: ‘This is another complex cycle with a myriad of global and national factors impacting demand, all within the context of an increasing demographic and high employment rates.

‘Demand for undergraduate courses during Covid-19 was unprecedented and so a slight recalibration in the number of applicants might be expected, particularly for courses related to nursing and healthcare which saw exceptional growth as students were inspired by the pandemic to pursue these professions.

‘Ucas polling on student attitudes also shows cost of living factors are making applicants re-evaluate their choice of subject based on value and future career prospects.

‘We are seeing increased interest in subjects which students perceive to have good career prospects, such as computing and law.’ The data suggests that more people are applying to study computing (+9.6 per cent) and law (+2.1per cent).

Source: Read Full Article