Online nursing degrees will be on offer from January

Seven universities in England have signed up to provide blended learning nursing degrees

Blended nursing degrees will deliver most of the theory online Picture: iStock

Study-from-home nursing degrees announced for England

A new flexible online nursing degree will launch in England in January, helping those with caring commitments to take up courses.

Health Education England (HEE) announced that seven universities have so far signed up to deliver the new blended learning nursing degree for which applications open this autumn.

The idea of online nursing degrees was first suggested in the NHS Long Term Plan at the start of 2019 in a bid to help to expand the nursing workforce.

Most of the theory will be delivered online, either in a group or for individual study, although some face-to-face sessions may still be offered.

The hope is that a more flexible approach to learning, without the need to travel, will make it easier for students to access education while balancing caring responsibilities.

It is also hoped the students will become digitally literate nurses of the future who can drive a digital agenda in their future workplaces. 

'Radical shift' in nurse education will open up the profession

The seven universities offering the online degree are the Open University and Middlesex University, the Open University and University of the West of England, Coventry University, University of Huddersfield, University of Sunderland, University of Gloucestershire and Birmingham City University.

HEE director of innovation and transformation Patrick Mitchell said the approach signified 'a radical shift' in nurse education in England.

Mr Mitchell said: 'We were impressed by the innovation that our chosen universities had put into their plans, especially around looking for new student markets, embracing the widening participation agenda and their use of innovative technologies.

'This approach has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and it will help to enable wider access to nursing degrees for people who may previously have encountered barriers to a nursing career.'

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said the online degree would open doors to a more diverse range of applicants.

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Health Education England's cash boost to expand placements for healthcare students

HEE also announced a £10 million fund to expand the number of placements for people studying nursing, midwifery and selected allied health professions.

HEE chief nurse Mark Radford said it would be working directly with universities, the NHS and other providers to ensure the placements would be in the 'areas of most need'.

Nursing student placement providers, including the NHS, social care and general practice, can bid for money to run the placements until 17 July.

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