Nursing student numbers in England still ‘nowhere near’ level required – RCN

UCAS figures show rise since last year, but college calls for more investment
UCAS website

UCAS figures show rise since last year, but college calls for more investment

Picture: Alamy

The number of students accepted for nursing degree programmes in England has risen but is still ‘nowhere near’ enough to end the staffing crisis in the profession, nursing leaders have said.

New figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) show that 22,775 students were accepted for pre-registration nursing degree programmes in England in 2019.

Statistics show halt in downward trend

This represents a 6.4% increase on the 2018 intake (21,390), ending two years of declining numbers after the bursary was scrapped in England in August 2017.

Number of students accepted for nursing courses in England by year

2019: 22,775

2018: 21,390

2017: 21,735

2016: 22,255

(Source: UCAS)


NHS Digital figures show that the nursing vacancy rate in England stands at 43,000.

Call for urgent injection of funds

Commenting on the UCAS statistics, RCN director for England Patricia Marquis: ‘This modest good news still shows England’s nurse training levels are nowhere near reaching the scale and pace required to end the nurse staffing crisis.

‘Whoever ends up in government next month needs to invest at least an extra £1 billion each year in England to cover tuition fees and living costs for nursing students.’

Across the UK as a whole, 30,390 people were accepted for nursing courses in 2019, while the number of applicants rose by 6.7% to 54,225.

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