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Nursing students accepted by universities reaches record high

Latest university admissions figures show 24% rise in intake for UK nursing courses in 2020

Latest university admissions figures show 24% rise in intake for UK nursing courses compared with 2019, with a 26% rise in England

Record numbers of nursing students have been accepted on to university courses in 2020, Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) data shows.

Commenting on the figures, Health Education England chief nurse Mark Radford said: We have worked extremely hard to attract a truly diverse range of people to nursing, and it is wonderful to see this reflected in this years record figures.

To see such a high number

Latest university admissions figures show 24% rise in intake for UK nursing courses compared with 2019, with a 26% rise in England

Picture shows woman doing an online university application for a nursing course
Picture: iStock

Record numbers of nursing students have been accepted on to university courses in 2020, Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) data shows.

Commenting on the figures, Health Education England chief nurse Mark Radford said: ‘We have worked extremely hard to attract a truly diverse range of people to nursing, and it is wonderful to see this reflected in this year’s record figures.

‘To see such a high number of mature students and successful male applicants is testament to this diversity, and extremely encouraging.’

Rise in number of people on university courses reflects new respect and understanding of nursing

UCAS said a total of 29,740 people have won places on nursing courses at English universities in 2020, up 26% from 23,630 in 2019. In 2018, the figure stood at 22,200.

For the UK as a whole the 2020 figure was up 24% year-on-year.

NHS England chief nursing officer Ruth May
Ruth May

NHS England chief nursing officer Ruth May said the figures offer optimism, given the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘Some of this is undoubtedly down to the huge impression that our professions have made on people this year.

‘They have been seen on the global stage as skilled leaders through the pandemic, and these numbers reflect new respect and understanding of our work and the exceptional careers the nursing professions can offer.’

Accepted male applicants in 2020 totalled 2,955, up 36% from 2,170 in 2019. The 2018 figure was 2,000. The number of accepted female applicants in 2020 is 26,785, up 25% from 21,460 in 2019. It was 20,200 in 2018.

Breakdown by age groups

Nursing students aged 35 and over enrolled this year totalled 6,770, up 44% from 4,715 in 2019. In 2018 it was 4,145.

UCAS data also showed that 3,005 people aged 30-34 were accepted on to nursing courses, up 34% from 2,245 in 2019. The 2018 figure was 2,060.

There were 11,570 students aged 20 or under, up from 9,835 in 2019 and 9,330 in 2018.

In the 21-24 age group, 4,370 people were accepted on to nursing courses this year, compared with 3,670 in 2019, a slight decrease from the 2018 figure of 3,695.

This year’s cohort in the 25-29 age group is 4,020, up from 3,165 in 2019 and 2,965 in 2018.

Elsewhere in the UK

  • Scotland – accepted 4,785 applicants on to nursing courses in 2020, up from 4,040 in 2019 and 3,725 in 2018
  • Wales – 1,985 new students, up from 1,815 in 2019 and 1,760 in 2018
  • Northern Ireland – 1,125 people are starting out on their nursing journey in 2020, up from 910 in 2019 and 855 in 2018

Find out more

UCAS Undergraduate Sector-Level End of Cycle Data Resources 2020


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