Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/nclexion/public_html/wp-content/themes/jnews/class/ContentTag.php on line 47
Applications to study nursing in the UK are up 6% compared with the last academic year, latest official figures reveal.
Data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) released today showed that 45,430 people had applied to a nurse degree by the 2020 January deadline, a rise from 43,630 by the same point in 2019.
“This coronavirus pandemic has reinforced the fact that nursing is a life-changing career”
However, vacancies remain on courses this year for all nursing specialisms, with the final deadline of 30 June fast approaching. Opportunities will be available beyond this date to join a programme through the “clearing” process.
Around 40% of adult nursing and social work courses are still accepting applications in the 2020 cycle to start in September or October, according to UCAS, with some universities having up to 50 places available.
The government has also offered to fund increases in places on nursing, midwifery, and allied health courses in England by up to 5,000 this year, if required, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Figures from 2019 showed 15% of applicants to nursing courses were submitted between the January and June deadlines.
The statistics were released by UCAS alongside new analysis about the demographics of people who showed an interest in nursing.
The review found that nursing and social work degrees had the “most diverse pool of applicants” in 2019, compared with other major undergraduate subjects.
Nursing had one of the highest proportions of course applicants from the black ethnic group (20%), second only to social work (21%), although no figures were provided on acceptance rates.
Similar patterns were observed when looking at mature students. Social work accepted the highest proportion of people aged over 30 (42%), while nursing accepted the second highest (29%).
The analysis also showed that nursing recorded the second-best accessibility when looking at the socioeconomic status of applicants, again behind only social work.
The figures showed that, for every one person from the most disadvantaged background who applied to a nurse course in 2019, there was 1.12 from the most advantaged background. When looking at acceptance rate, the ratio of disadvantaged to advantaged was similar at 1.13.
Meanwhile, the number of men applying for nursing grew by 8.5% in 2019 from the previous year to 5,370, with the number of acceptances also increasing (by 7.1% to 2,700).
An appeal for applicants was today issued by health and social care secretary Matt Hancock, England’s chief nursing officer Ruth May, and Health Education England chief nurse Professor Mark Radford.
Mr Hancock said: “This coronavirus pandemic has reinforced the fact that nursing is a life-changing career, and has shown just how cherished our health and care frontline workers are.
“It is excellent to see that these courses attract people from all backgrounds, and I urge anyone considering a rewarding career in nursing to apply and get started this year.”
Ms May appealed to anyone “inspired” by the work of front line workers over the past six months to apply.
“Apply to train to become a nurse to make a difference to the lives of individuals, families, and communities”
Likewise, Professor Radford said: “The expertise and flexibility of our nurses whilst working during the pandemic has shown you can deliver safe, quality, compassionate care to patients even when under unprecedented pressure.
“They are a credit to our profession, and I would say don’t delay, don’t wait until clearing, apply today to train to become a nurse to make a difference to the lives of individuals, families, and communities across the country.”
The figures suggested interest in nursing was slowly picking back up in the wake of the damage caused by the cut of student nurse bursaries in England.
In 2016, the last year the government covered tuition fees for nursing students in the country, 66,730 people applied to study nursing in the UK.
However, applicants fell dramatically to 54,985 in 2017, and again to 50,805 in 2018, before the trend reversed in 2019 when 54,225 people sought to join a nursing course.
The government has recently performed a partial u-turn on its decision to scrap financial support for student nurses in England by offering maintenance grants to those starting in 2020.
However, these students will still have to take out a loan for their tuition fees, while those studying in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales get their education for free.