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Rise in number of new nursing students in Scotland coincides with increase in bursary

RCN welcomes hike but says this must be backed up by increased mentoring

RCN welcomes hike but says this must be backed up by increased mentoring


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The number of Scottish students accepted on nursing courses in Scotland has risen by 8% since last year, which coincides with the country’s bursary being increased to just over £8,000. 

Figures released by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) show the number of students now stands at 2,720.

Financial incentive to study

Last autumn, Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a bursary increase for nursing and midwifery students, which would take effect incrementally from 2019.

Students will receive an £8,100 bursary in 2019-20, which will increase to £10,000 the following financial year. 

Before the rise, Scotland’s nursing student bursary was £6,578.

Reducing nurse vacancies


RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe

RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe said: ‘Any increase in the number of people being accepted to study nursing is good news.

‘More than ever, we need more people in nursing to reduce the large number of vacancies and to help ensure that every patient receives safe and effective care.’

Providing supervision and support

However, Ms Fyffe warned that students needed the right level of supervision and support to get the most from their studies.

‘As Scotland moves to train more nurses, there must be adequate resourcing to build capacity in areas such as mentoring. Attracting people to a career in nursing is just one part of the jigsaw,’ she said.

‘Ensuring that Scotland’s future nurses have the clinical skills required, as well as the resilience, to work in hugely demanding modern nursing roles, will help to ensure that people who choose nursing stay in the profession.’

In England, the government scrapped the NHS bursary for nursing students from August 2017.

The latest UCAS data for England show a 29% fall in applications since 2016, the last year the bursary was available.


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