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Sharp fall in nursing degree applications ‘cause for concern’

RCN cites financial pressures and soaring inflation as university figures show the number of mature students applying for nursing courses has dropped

RCN cites financial pressures and soaring inflation as university figures show the number of mature students applying for nursing courses has dropped

Applications to university nursing courses has dropped with a sharp fall in the number of mature students seeking to enter the profession.

The latest data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service shows overall applications to nursing courses for the June 2022 deadline fell 8% from 56,630 in 2021 to 52,150 this year .

Applications

RCN cites financial pressures and soaring inflation as university figures show the number of mature students applying for nursing courses has dropped

University figures show the number of mature students applying for nursing courses in 2022 has fallen sharply
Picture: iStock

Applications to university nursing courses has dropped with a sharp fall in the number of mature students seeking to enter the profession.

The latest data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service shows overall applications to nursing courses for the June 2022 deadline fell 8% from 56,630 in 2021 to 52,150 this year.

Applications from those aged 25 to 29 decreased by 21% from 7,550 in 2021 to 5,930 in 2022 – although there was a small increase in applications from 18-year-olds.

Prospect of taking on more debt as inflation soars a ‘bridge too far’, says RCN

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said the figures are alarming. She said: ‘An 8 per cent drop in applications to nursing courses across the UK is a real cause for concern amid a workforce crisis, which is compromising safe patient care.

‘With the biggest drop in mature student applications, financial pressures are at play and the prospect of taking on more debt when inflation is soaring is a bridge too far.’

The data also shows around 5,000 less female applicants than last year. And while international applications increased by nearly 1,000, UK applications dropped by 5,400 – or 10%.

The figures come as health leaders warn the decision to scrap BTECs in health and social and care – one of the main routes into nursing –could damage the recruitment of potential nursing students.

The efforts of nurses during the pandemic sparked a surge in interest in becoming a nurse, but the increasing strain on health and care services is putting new recruits off, according to associate professor and head of the department of adult nursing at Birmingham City University Kevin Crimmons.

Government should invest in future workforce to address ‘alarming’ nurse vacancies

‘The perception of nursing as portrayed in the media over the past year is one of a profession buckling under the weight of the unsustainable pressures on the NHS,’ he said.

‘We had a very public debate on the pay offer from the government, all of which must weigh on the minds of mature students thinking of a career change and indeed students completing their A-Level or equivalent studies.

‘If the government is serious about addressing the alarming vacancy levels then they need to think about how they invest in the future workforce – whether that is paying tuition fees or providing a realistic bursary.’

The Department of Health and Social Care has been approached for comment.


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