RCN call for national recruitment campaign as UCAS reveals further fall in nursing applications

RCN call for national recruitment campaign as UCAS reveals further fall in nursing applications


UCAS has found that the number of applications to university nursing courses in England has fallen by 5,000 in comparison to the same point last year and amid undergraduate loans chaos and a post-graduate bursary removal row. 

Hundreds of under-graduate nurses have had their loans stopped due to overpayment errors. While in February of this year, the Government announced its intention to remove the bursary from post-graduate students in the next academic year. The RCN has opposed this move and is working with parliamentarians to ensure the post-graduate route remains one of the quickest, most attractive and viable ways to train a registered nurse.

The number of those applying to begin training in September 2018 has fallen by 14% or 4,970 on the previous cycle and by a third since 2016 – the last year students were supported by a bursary. In 2016, applications numbered 47,390. So far this year that figure is 31,750.

The downward trend in 2017 came after changes to student funding and the UCAS data suggests a second fall in 2018. According to the NMC regulator and analysis by the Royal College of Nursing indicates that there are around 40,000 nursing vacancies in the NHS in England alone.

Last year, Ministers created extra nurse training places that weren’t taken up. Funding changes, including the removal of the student bursary, where intended to increase nurse numbers.

The RCN is calling for an urgent national campaign to attract potential students, as well as the incentives needed to boost numbers. The urgency is to encourage applications before the summer and the RCN are calling on Ministers to consider introducing means-tested grants.

Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said:  “The continued failure of ministers to get a grip on the nurse training situation will jeopardise care for patients.

“The Government may have agreed to increase starting salaries for nurses but, in isolation, that will not be enough to bring in the tens of thousands more we need. More incentives are needed to make it as attractive as possible. Extra university places are only worthwhile if they are filled and the NHS gets a newly trained nurse at the end. The Government knows patients can pay a highest price when there aren’t enough nurses.

“Ministers must redouble efforts to get students into nursing courses in September this year. Across the board, nursing students must be encouraged and supported - the Government should resolve the loans fiasco and abandon its latest bursary plans.”

Thursday, 5 April 2018

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