• 26 August 2021
  • 4 min read

Does The Increase In The Numbers Of Student Nurses This Year Augur Well for the Future?

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder
    • Richard Gill
    • Laura Bosworth
    • Mat Martin
    • Aubrey Hollebon
  • 1
  • 341
Does The Increase In The Numbers Of Student Nurses This Year Augur Well for the Future?

The number of students successfully applying to UK undergraduate nursing courses this year has grown by 8% compared to last year.

Data from the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) shows 26,730 applicants had gained places on undergraduate nursing courses as of 10th August 2021.

The prominent role of nursing during the pandemic has arguably played a part in the rise, given applications for university nursing courses went up significantly since the start of lockdowns.

To what extent do you think the much-publicised role of the NHS and nursing in particular, has played in encouraging more people to apply to study nursing? And what other contributing factors should also be taken into account? Comment 💬 Like ❤️ Reply 🙂 below.

The RCN was said to be ‘encouraged’ by the increase in new nursing undergraduates but stressed this increase would do nothing to address current nurse staffing shortages. Acceptance numbers onto nursing courses are “still not keeping pace with vacancies” across the profession.

The NHS in England estimates it currently has approximately 40,000 nursing vacancies. In addition, a recent survey from the RCN showed 36% of respondents across the UK were considering leaving the profession.

Given the ongoing problems around staffing levels within the NHS, and no obvious solutions to this issue, should the Government be undertaking a review to determine what level the NHS can safely and sustainably operate at in the short-to-medium term whilst waiting for the increase in nursing graduates a few years down the line?

Professor Mark Radford, Chief Nurse at Health Education England, said: “We have worked extremely hard to attract a truly diverse range of people to nursing, and it is wonderful to see this reflected in this year’s record figures.”

“We know more needs to be done to meet the target of 50,000 new nurses set by the government…but we are clearly making good progress” he continued.

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What do YOU think?

Let me know your thoughts in the Comments & click Like!

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Do you think the target of 50,000 new nurses will be reached, and will it be enough to cope with ever increasing demands on NHS services?

In England, 20,930 students successfully applied for places on nursing courses for 2021, up from 18,770 students in 2020. This is a rise of 11.5%.

In Wales the increase was less than 1%, with student numbers up from 1,280 in 2020, to 1,290 in 2021.

In Northern Ireland, the numbers accepted onto nursing courses decreased by 11%, from 880 in 2020 to 780 in 2021.

Likewise, there was a fall in Scotland of 3%, with 3,730 students being accepted onto nursing courses in 2021, down from 3,830 the previous year.

Why do you think England and Wales saw increases in nursing applications, but Scotland and Northern Ireland saw falls? And do you think that the pandemic has shown the need for much closer cooperation on health matters, including staff recruitment and retention, across the four nations of the UK?

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What do YOU think?

Let me know your thoughts in the Comments & click Like!

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Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England said: “these numbers today from UCAS offer some real optimism…[and] reflect new respect and understanding of our work and the exceptional careers the nursing professions can offer.” To boost nursing numbers further, the RCN created and is running its ‘Fund our Future’ campaign in England, calling for the abolition of self-funded tuition fees for all nursing students and the introduction of universal living maintenance grants. The RCN is also campaigning for the cancellation of student loans taken out to pay fees since 2017.

Will new grants, the abolition of tuition fees and cancellation of existing student debt be enough to keep the numbers of applicants to nursing courses increasing year-on-year, and persuade those nurses considering leaving the profession to reconsider?

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said the numbers of acceptances onto nursing courses showed how the hard work and dedication of health staff during the pandemic had “inspired the next generation in our health service”.

The RCN also reiterated its call for the government to increase the offered 3% pay deal for NHS nurses in order to help with staff retention and ensure valuable expertise was not lost from the health service.

How long do you think the trend of increasing numbers of nursing students will continue if no agreement about pay is reached, and there is ongoing ill-feeling and distrust between the health service and the government?

Let us know what you think in the comments, and please Like the article if you found it interesting.

Thanks.

About the author

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder

I studied English before moving into publishing in the mid 90s. I co-founded Nurses.co.uk and our other three sites in 2008. I wanted to provide a platform that gives a voice to those working in health and social care. I'm fascinated, generally, by the career choices we all make. But I'm especially interested in the stories told by those who choose to spend their life supporting others. They are mostly positive and life-affirming stories, despite the considerable challenges and burdens faced.

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  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder

About the author

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder

I studied English before moving into publishing in the mid 90s. I co-founded Nurses.co.uk and our other three sites in 2008. I wanted to provide a platform that gives a voice to those working in health and social care. I'm fascinated, generally, by the career choices we all make. But I'm especially interested in the stories told by those who choose to spend their life supporting others. They are mostly positive and life-affirming stories, despite the considerable challenges and burdens faced.

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    • David Mallard 25 days ago
      David Mallard
    • David Mallard
      25 days ago

      Can someone explain to me why we need to go to the Philippines or India to recruit nurses rather than ... read more

      • Hi David. Yes, there is a severe shortage of nurses and care workers for the jobs available in the UK.

        Replied by: Matt Farrah