More than 60,000 people have applied to study nursing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, figures from UCAS have shown.
The total number of applications for nursing courses has risen by almost a third (32%) to reach 60,130, with increases seen in each age group – from UK 18 year old school leavers (a record 16,560 applicants, up 27% on 2020) to mature students aged 35 and over, where for the first time over 10,000 (10,770, a 39% rise) have applied.
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‘This surge in interest from people – of all ages – wanting to study nursing is incredible, and is great news for the public and the health service,’ said Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for NHS England.
‘During COVID-19, the level of interest in working for the NHS has trumped lots of other careers options, and that speaks volumes about how people recognise our profession, particularly following our most challenging year. We hope that we can inspire even more people to consider a rewarding career in the NHS in the near future – if you are interested, please have a look at the many opportunities that are available.’
Furthermore, the largest proportional increase in UK applicants by their declared ethnic group has come from black and mixed race students, both up 15% to 40,690 and 25,830 respectively. Applicants from the Asian ethnic group have increased by 10% to 70,140, while 11% more white students (to a total of 352,170) have applied.
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‘I am pleased to see so many people inspired by the efforts of our nursing professionals during the coronavirus pandemic, and to have chosen to pursue a career in nursing. Despite the incredibly challenging demands over the last 12 months, our nursing professionals and nursing students have demonstrated their vital role in providing the safe, kind, effective care that has undoubtedly saved lives,’ said Professor Geraldine Walters, Executive Director of Professional Practice for the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
‘Our priority has been to safeguard student learning as much as possible so they can complete their education programmes and join our permanent register. We are therefore continuing to work closely with universities to ensure our emergency and recovery standards provide the support and flexibility students may need. As we look to a post-COVID-19 world, the next generation of nursing professionals will be needed more than ever to provide the care we all want to see. We look forward to eventually welcoming them onto our permanent register.’