Nursing course applications fall for second year after student bursary scrapped
Released on - 13/02/2018
Applications to undertake nursing courses in England have dropped for a second year, falling by a third since the Government withdrew bursaries in 2017 causing nurses and midwives to pay £9,000 a year in fees.
Ucas figures for the first batch of applicants wanting to begin university courses in September 2018 show that the number of students hoping to study NHS nursing have again dropped drastically, by 13 per cent on last year.
This is despite the Government removing the bursary so that more nurses could be trained, as places were in the past were capped by what the NHS could afford.
Nursing managers said this ambition had been unsuccessful and some form of incentive, such as student loan write-offs for nurses who are trained and work in the NHS, is critically needed to avoid “unimaginable problems” in the future.
Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt pledged an “historic increase” of 5,000 added places for student nurses at the 2017 Conservative Party Conference.
The numbers starting university courses last year dropped by 3 per cent after a collapse in applications, and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) suggested this would happen again unless action was taken.
The figures from UCAS show there were 32,580 applications to study nursing before the 5 January intake window to study in England in 2018, a fall of 33 per cent on the 48,230 who had applied at the same time before the bursary was eradicated.
Although the numbers of aspiring nurses still outnumber the total nursing places available, the downfall in applications last year resulted in 700 fewer nurses beginning training in England.
The NHS is attempting to fill a record 34,000 full-time nursing and midwifery roles, and the number of registered nurses is declining as experienced staff resign because of government pay restraint policies and extreme pressures on wards.
The RCN stated it wants a campaign to boost numbers while there is still time to apply in 2018, however this should be assisted by a “central funding pot to be created within the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to cover means-tested grants and allow for tuition write-off to incentivise students”.
The figures show the fall has been most in mature students, often those who have carer or financial obligations already and can’t afford to incur the cost of £9,000 a year in fees.
“Nursing is now a graduate profession but it lacks a graduate salary that compensates for the fees paid,” Ms Davies warned.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson commented: "Our priority is getting more nurses on our wards, which is why we have increased the number of nurse training places available by 25%, allowing more people to study nursing than ever before.
Taken from the Independent News http://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/nursing-applications-ucas-course-drop-nhs-grants-funding-debt-tuition-fees-costs-a8191546.html