New data on nursing student numbers released by UCAS

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For the first time this year, people wanting to study nursing apply for a student loan, rather than funding from a government bursary.

We wrote extensively about the early evidence from these changes in our recent report Rising Pressure.

Since then, the latest data from UCAS have since been released as part of their End of Cycle report. These data show a larger increase in placed students between 28 days after results day and the end of cycle than in previous years. This means that 0.9% fewer nursing students were accepted this year than last year, compared to the 3.5% previously. This is despite a 17.6% fall in applications.

The average number of acceptances between a month after results day and the end of cycle between 2013 and 2016 was 600 (a 3% increase in acceptances at that final stage). This year, however, there were 1,200 extra acceptances – a 6% increase. There will be a number of reasons for this late surge in acceptances.

This 0.9% drop in the number of nurses varied by country. Among students applying from Scotland and Wales there was an increase in the number of acceptances, while there was a slight drop in Northern Ireland and a 3% drop in England (compared to 5.5% a month after results day).

In our report (and recent chart), we raised a concern about the changing age profile of nursing students, with falls in the number of placed applicants who were 20 and over. This distribution is still seen with the latest data. The number of accepted applicants under 20 has increased by 8%, while the number 20 and over has decreased by 7% overall.

Further reading

Research report

Rising pressure: The NHS workforce challenge

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