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Degree course ends: uni to stop recruiting to programme, blaming fall in applications

Programme’s existing nursing student cohort unaffected by announcement
UEA announces it is to suspend recruitment to learning disability degree programme

University of East Anglia’s existing learning disability nursing cohort unaffected by announcement and teaching staff offered alternative opportunities

The University of East Anglia (UEA) is to suspend recruitment to its learning disability nursing course, blaming a decline in applicants.

Students currently enrolled in the BSc learning disability nursing course will be able to complete their studies, but no further cohorts will be recruited.

Assurances for current cohort

UEA dean of health sciences Sally Hardy said students currently taking the course will be ‘fully supported’ to complete their degree and register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

University of East Anglia’s existing learning disability nursing cohort unaffected by announcement and teaching staff offered alternative opportunities

University of East Anglia announces it is to suspend recruitment to learning disability degree programme
Students at University of East Anglia’s campus outside Norwich Picture: Alamy

The University of East Anglia (UEA) is to suspend recruitment to its learning disability nursing course, blaming a decline in applicants.

Students currently enrolled in the BSc learning disability nursing course will be able to complete their studies, but no further cohorts will be recruited.

Assurances for current cohort

UEA dean of health sciences Sally Hardy said students currently taking the course will be ‘fully supported’ to complete their degree and register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

‘While this is no doubt disappointing news for us all, we are actively pursuing other routes and opportunities for ensuring that the health and social care workforce are equipped with necessary skills to expertly care for people with learning disabilities and their families,’ she said.

‘We remain committed and passionate about ensuring people with a learning disability and their carers get the right support and live valued lives and we will be pursuing other strategies to educate and inform professionals and carers of how best to meet needs.’

Recent precedent and impact on teaching staff

UEA is the latest university to stop offering learning disability nursing courses in recent years. In 2018, London South Bank University and the University of Hertfordshire suspended recruitment to their undergraduate learning disability nursing courses, also because of lack of take-up.

UEA staff teaching the degree will be given the opportunity to teach learning disability care in the university’s other nursing programmes, as well as continue their research.

Learning disability nursing suffers from lack of public awareness

RCN professional lead for learning disability nursing Jonathan Beebee said the profession required national recruitment campaign.

‘One of the largest challenges we face is there isn’t a great deal of understanding about what learning disability nurses do,’ he said.

The NMC’s mid-year registration data reported an increase in the number of learning disability nurses between April and September 2021 – rising from 17,128 to 17,228.

Last year, the All-England Plan for Learning Disability Nursing set out a clear strategy to attract and retain nurses, pointing to a need for more opportunities for nurses to develop their skills.


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