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Record number of nursing students accepted on university courses

Health Education England chief nurse describes increased numbers as a major milestone, but 2021 course acceptance figures down in Scotland and Northern Ireland, compared with 2020

Health Education England chief nurse describes increased numbers as a major milestone, but 2021 course acceptance figures down in Scotland and Northern Ireland, compared with 2020

A record number of nursing students have been accepted onto university courses in 2021, new figures from Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) show.

Figures from this year’s admission cycle show there were

Health Education England chief nurse describes increased numbers as a major milestone, but 2021 course acceptance figures down in Scotland and Northern Ireland, compared with 2020

A record number of nursing students accepted at university this year
Picture: iStock

A record number of nursing students have been accepted onto university courses in 2021, new figures from Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) show.

Figures from this year’s admission cycle show there were 30,185 acceptances on nursing and midwifery courses, a 1.5% increase on last year’s 29,740 acceptances.

Attracting a diverse range of people to nursing

Health Education England chief nurse Mark Radford said the number marked a ‘major milestone’. ‘It has been another tough year for the NHS, but we have continued to work extremely hard to attract a diverse range of people to this rewarding career,’ he said.

Mark Radford, Health Education England chief nurse

‘The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the vital contribution of our nurses and I am hugely proud of their commitment in these challenging times.’

England’s chief nursing officer Ruth May added: ‘Our amazing staff have shown throughout the pandemic what a brilliant job they do and the public recognises now, more than ever, what a vital role nurses, midwives and other healthcare workers play.’

Nursing staff leaving the profession hits four-year high

In contrast, the number of nurses and midwives leaving the profession is at its highest in four years. More than 13,000 nurses, midwives and nursing associates left the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register in the past six months, according to the regulator’s mid-year registration report.

Between April and September 2021, 13,945 nurses, midwives, and nursing associates left the register, compared with 11,020 during the same period in 2020.

How the rest of the UK fared

  • Scotland – accepted 4,610 applicants onto nursing courses in 2021, a drop from 4,785 in 2020
  • Wales – 2,015 new nursing students, up from 1,985 in 2020
  • Northern Ireland – accepted 1,000 nursing students in 2021, a decrease from the 1,125 in 2020


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