University bodies respond to UCAS application data on healthcare courses

2 February 2017

University bodies have responded to the release of data showing fewer applications to health and social care courses for entry in 2017/18.

The data published by the University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) shows a lower level of applications to higher education by 5% across all subjects. The reduction in application numbers for 2017/18 is higher across healthcare courses where applicants from England making at least one choice to nursing and midwifery have fallen by 23%.

Professor Dame Jessica Corner, Chair of the Council of Deans of Health, said:

“It is to be expected that there would be fewer applications in the first year following the changes to the funding system, but we would expect this to pick up in future years. This also comes in the context of a reduction in applications to higher education across all subjects and the introduction of alternative routes into health careers such as the nursing associate and registered nurse apprenticeship programmes.

“Our members report receiving a high number of good quality applications for most courses and they will continue to recruit through to the summer. Where courses have historically had a large number of applicants, fewer applicants might well not affect eventual student numbers”.

Professor Steve West, Chair of Universities UK’s Health Education and Research Policy Network, said:

“With the changes to the funding system, most universities anticipated a dip in applications before the UCAS deadline. We will continue to work hard through the Spring and Summer to make sure that we attract high quality applicants from the widest range of backgrounds.

“At the same time, though no longer funding these degrees, government must step forward to continue to endorse and promote the degree route into these professions.

“These courses lead into critically important roles in our future health and care services. They also provide an amazing range of professional careers, qualifications that are recognised all over the world and great opportunities for personal fulfilment.”



Notes to editors:

  1. The applicant figures have been issued under embargo (00:01hrs, Thursday 2 February) by the UCAS press office. For more information, please contact: or 01242 545469
  2. From 1 August 2017 new students in England on most nursing, midwifery and allied health professional pre-registration courses will have access to the standard student support package of tuition fee loans and support for living costs, instead of an NHS grant. Places on these courses will no longer be commissioned and paid for by Health Education England.
  3. The Council of Deans of Health is the voice of the UK university faculties for nursing, midwifery and the allied health professions:
  4. Universities UK is the representative organisation for the UK’s universities. Founded in 1918, its mission is to be the definitive voice for all universities in the UK, providing high quality leadership and support to its members to promote a successful and diverse higher education sector. With 135 membersand offices in London, Cardiff (Universities Wales) and Edinburgh (Universities Scotland), it promotes the strength and success of UK universities nationally and internationally. Visit:
  5. For more information on this press release please email Gareth Morganor Jon Eames, 07496 693806.


One response to “University bodies respond to UCAS application data on healthcare courses”

  1. Allan Jolly says:

    If this was to be expected, what mitigating actions were put into place, as part of the risk assessment, months ago when this decision was made that will help address the shortfall of applicants and a potential significant reduction in numbers of newly qualified nurses available to the NHS in 2020?

    Can the public be reassured that neither the academic entry standards nor the required values necessary for nursing will be compromised for new applicants in order for targets to be met?

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