News

Students accepted onto UK nursing courses down disappointing 7%

Dismaying fall against backdrop of nursing vacancies and shortages highlights need for better access to financial support for tuition fees and living costs
A group of students discuss exam results

Dismaying fall against backdrop of nursing vacancies and shortages highlights need for better access to financial support for tuition fees and living costs

The number of nursing students accepted onto university courses in the UK this year has dropped by 7%.

Figures published by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) today show that 21,130 applicants have been accepted onto nursing degree courses starting in September 2022 – including both UK and international students – down from 22,690 in 2021.

The number of 18-year-olds accepted is down 9% from last year, while the number aged 25 to 29 fell 17%. However, in Scotland numbers rose by 10% for 18-year-olds and 1% overall. The number of international students rose 25%,

Dismaying fall against backdrop of nursing vacancies and shortages highlights need for better access to financial support for tuition fees and living costs

A group of students discuss exam results
Picture: Alamy

The number of nursing students accepted onto university courses in the UK this year has dropped by 7%.

Figures published by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) today show that 21,130 applicants have been accepted onto nursing degree courses starting in September 2022 – including both UK and international students – down from 22,690 in 2021.

The number of 18-year-olds accepted is down 9% from last year, while the number aged 25 to 29 fell 17%. However, in Scotland numbers rose by 10% for 18-year-olds and 1% overall. The number of international students rose 25%, from 460 to 570.

Numbers needed to be stronger to address staffing crisis but instead headed in wrong direction, says RCN

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said the fall in numbers shows that nursing students need better access to financial support for tuition fees and the cost of living crisis to encourage more into the profession, as the NHS faces 40,000 nursing vacancies.

‘Every one of those accepted onto courses has made a fantastic decision and a rewarding nursing career awaits them. Seeing thousands of young people decide that their future is in nursing spurs us on to keep fighting for the profession they will join,’ she said.

‘To address the staffing crisis and give the kind of care patients deserve, we need these figures to look even stronger. Sadly, they have headed in the wrong direction this year.’

Students accepted onto nursing courses in the UK
  2021 2022 %Change
UK students 22,230 20,560 -8%
England 16,810 15,460 -8%
Scotland 3,280 3,320 +1%
Wales 1,170 950 -19%
Northern Ireland 970 840 -13%
International students 460 570 +25%
Total 22,690 21,130 -7%

Final data on clearing and acceptances next month will give clearer picture of future workforce

Overall the number of students accepted onto university places on all courses has dropped 2% since last year, down to 425,830 people from a record 435,430 last year.

UCAS said a total of 20,360 students did not get a place this year, down from 24,260 in 2019.

University of Edinburgh visiting professor and Nursing Standard columnist James Buchan said: ‘A drop in acceptances this year gives no sign that the system is trying to expand to take more applicants into pre-registration nurse education, despite the ongoing concerns about vacancies and shortages.

‘We also continue to have many applicants every year who do not get a place on an undergraduate course. This is a missed opportunity.’

The final data on clearing and acceptances, which will not be published until next month, will give a clearer picture of the future workforce, he added.

Coventry University’s pro-vice chancellor for health and life sciences Lisa Bayliss-Pratt, who is also a registered nurse, told Nursing Standard that with increased demand for nurses, the university is working with the local Integrated Care System (ICS) to ensure 1,000 new nursing places across the region this year.

She said: ‘It is really exciting here today welcoming students and to be giving people a chance at one of the most exciting, diverse and dynamic careers.

‘The appetite for our nursing courses has always been buoyant, but now more than ever, with the demand for nurses increased, we need to be pushing to create more opportunities to become a nurse.’

Manchester Metropolitan University head of nursing Professor Mark Hayter said: ‘A nursing degree is one of the most challenging but also one of the most rewarding degrees a student can do.

‘At Manchester Met, our courses equip students with the theoretical knowledge but also the clinical patient care skills needed to be a nurse – meaning they can make a real difference to the health of individuals and their families.’

Scrapping of the bursary is leading to drop in admissions, says QNI leader

Queen’s Nursing Institute chief executive Crystal Oldman said the government’s decision to scrap the nursing bursary in 2017 is leading to a drop in nursing admissions.

She said ‘forgivable loans’ – a loan that reduces because of service to the NHS – would attract more people into the profession.

Nursing is a career that can ‘take you to so many places’, said Dr Oldman. ‘It's not just about hospital, it's about the community and general practice. There is such an amazing array of opportunities like no other career that you can do. Stay focused on what is it that you came in for.’


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first three months:

  • Customisable clinical dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals including Nursing Children and Young People
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • NMC-compliant RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs