UCAS has published the first chapters of their End-of-Cycle 2018 report which summarises the number of applications and acceptances to undergraduate courses in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The report shows that despite a fall in the number of nursing applicants there was a record high number of acceptances across the UK.
The number of applicants to B7 nursing courses declined by 7.6 per cent in 2018 after it had already fallen by 17.6 per cent in 2017 when the funding changes in England first came into effect.
As most nursing courses are still oversubscribed, acceptances have remained stable with 28,540 this year being the third highest on record. The acceptance rate for nursing courses in the UK increased this year by 4.1 percentage points to 56.2 per cent, the highest ever.
The number of acceptances for applicants domiciled in England has decreased by 1.4 per cent this year, to 21,745. This is the first time over the reporting period that acceptances have decreased for two consecutive years.
However, the opposite can be seen in Scotland and Wales, where the number of acceptances has increased. In Scotland, the number of acceptances has risen for the second year in a row. This year, the increase has been 4.7 per cent, a smaller increase than last year, but brings the total up to the highest seen, at 3,375.
In Wales, the increase has been smaller than that in Scotland, of 3.2 per cent, bringing the total up to 1,785. In Northern Ireland, acceptances have remained stable, at 1,090.
Responding to the report, Dr Katerina Kolyva, Executive Director of the Council of Deans of Health, said:
“The decline in the number of applications to nursing courses, particularly in England, is concerning. It shows the urgent need for intervention to support a growth in student numbers, including sustained campaigning at a national level to attract students from all ages to healthcare courses, promoting the value of healthcare careers and countering the many negative messages around these professions. We believe the introduction of a maintenance grant could have a significant impact on both recruitment and retention, particularly among mature students. Recruitment could be further encouraged by the introduction of a loan repayment scheme linked to service.
“We are pleased to see that acceptances to nursing courses in Scotland and Wales have increased significantly and welcome the recent announcement in Scotland of an increase in the bursary for nursing and midwifery students. We look forward to continuing to work with government in both Scotland and Wales to support the growth in student numbers across the healthcare professions”.