Did you know that ‘nursing’ and ‘midwifery’ are the MOST popular phrases for students searching for courses? Nope, neither did we. We chat with Ed Colley, from, about his views on nursing degrees and midwifery courses. Words by Matt Farrah. About Matt Farrah - follow me on Google+

Thanks for taking part in our interview. We talk a lot here about nursing jobs and careers. Do you feel part of the industry that's about helping people find the right career?

Most definitely. Although the specific purpose of websites like and is to help millions of users find the course that's right for them, in many cases this is the first step to the right career. Whether someone is looking to start a new career or progress further in their current one, a course can either be a 'must', or at the very least can be of great help.

How long have you been running and, and what made you decide to start it? was set up over 10 years ago in order to make it easy for people to find the right school, college or university, in order to pursue educational opportunities for themselves or their families. started 4 years ago, and its aim is to help future students choose the course and university that's right for them, based on the wealth of information we display on the site, including reviews, rankings, scholarships, videos and open days.

Government spending will affect nursing degree courses as well as nursing careers. Do you have a view on how the recent spending review will change university admissions?

Right now it's difficult to say. University applications have risen ahead of the upcoming rise in tuition fees, but is this because students who would have previously taken a gap year don't want to face the increase, or is it a general trend that will continue in 2012?

I would imagine, however, that many potential nursing students will be weighing up the cost of nursing degrees against their potential income as nurses, and hopefully this will not deter anyone who has a passion for nursing.

From your perspective are nursing degree courses / university places over- or under-subscribed? Are they popular courses?

I'm not sure whether nursing courses/places are over or under-subscribed, but I can tell you that nursing is the most searched for keyword on and midwifery is the second most searched for keyword. Between them they generate 7.4% (3.7% each) of all pageviews generated by all keywords.

This might not sound like much until you consider that over 5,000 different keywords are searched for on each month. The third most popular keyword, social work, generates 1.9% of all keywords - so from the experiences of nursing and midwifery courses are very popular.

Midwifery has become a very difficult sector (with respect to finding enough candidates for the midwife jobs available). Given the recent changes - making it more expensive to be a student - this problem could become even worse, with fewer midwives taking qualifications. Do you think universities will need to be doing more and more to promote themselves and the courses they have available?

I think that increasingly universities will have to promote the 'employability' of their courses. If you are asking a potential student to pay £27K on fees alone, then they will understandably want to know what kind of future employment prospects this course will give them. If I were a university offering midwifery courses, the fact that demand for midwives is outstripping supply is something that I would try and promote as much as possible

Some of the people reading this may be deciding whether or not to get in to a nursing career. Do you have any tips to help potential university students decide which course (and then career) they should consider?

In terms of courses, potential students should do as much research as possible - what are the differences in content and modules between different nursing courses? How are different courses rated by rankings tables, student surveys and student reviews? How are the universities offering the courses rated?

And if a student is planning to study away from home then they definitely need to visit any university or college they are planning to apply to, in order to get a feel for the place. As for whether nursing is the right career for them, students should try to speak to nurses - maybe ask their school to arrange a Q&A session - to find out what they do on a day to day basis, what they enjoy about their job and what frustrates them, and whether they think nurses need to have certain skills or personality traits in order to do their job well.