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Drop in applications for university nursing degree courses

UCAS figures show 10% decrease from last year's record-breaking number of candidates

Universities and College Admissions Service figures show 10% decrease from 2021’s record-breaking number of candidates for undergraduate nurse courses

UK nursing courses have seen a drop in applications this year, following last year’s record-breaking number of candidates.

Figures released today show the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) received 41,220 applications for undergraduate nursing courses by 26 January 2022 .

It represents a 10% decrease from the 46,040 applications in January 2021 – the highest since numbers for nursing

Universities and College Admissions Service figures show 10% decrease from 2021’s record-breaking number of candidates for undergraduate nurse courses

Universities and College Admissions Service figures show 10% decrease from 2021’s record-breaking number of candidates for undergraduate nurse courses
Picture: iStock

UK nursing courses have seen a drop in applications this year, following last year’s record-breaking number of candidates.

Figures released today show the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) received 41,220 applications for undergraduate nursing courses by 26 January 2022.

It represents a 10% decrease from the 46,040 applications in January 2021 – the highest since numbers for nursing courses began to be collated in 2007.

Scrap tuition fees and provide higher maintenance grants, says RCN

Unison national nursing officer Stuart Tuckwood said the drop in numbers made it ‘all the more important’ to retain experienced nurses.

‘To do that, it will take inflation-busting pay rises, a proper work-life balance and fair pay for working overtime,’ he said.

While RCN general secretary Pat Cullen urged the government to put an end to the financial burden nursing students face while completing courses.

‘We know that some may not make that complete journey with too many saying that financial pressures forced them out along the way. Ministers can play a large part in preventing this – starting with scrapping tuition fees and providing higher maintenance grants,’ she said.

Breakdown of UK nursing applications in 2022

  • 29,300 from England
  • 5,020 from Scotland
  • 1,890 from Wales
  • 2,390 from Northern Ireland
  • 780 from EU countries
  • 1,830 from non-EU countries

Nursing degree courses still popular despite removal of NHS student bursary

The latest UCAS figures still represent a rise in the popularity of nursing courses when compared to 2019 and 2020. Applications to nursing courses increased by 34% in 2022 when compared to 2019 figures.

In England, one in three (33%) nursing students did not complete their course in 2020, figures obtained by Nursing Standard show.

Experts told Nursing Standard the pandemic and the government’s decision to remove the NHS bursary for nursing students, factored into the rise in attrition – up from 24% in 2019.

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said the government’s commitment to boosting nursing numbers was ‘unwavering’.

He added that nursing students will benefit from a £5,000 training grant a year, a commitment made by the government in 2019.

The Department for Health and Social Care has has been contacted for comment on the RCN’s call for further financial incentives for nursing students.


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