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Sharp rise in applications to study nursing

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There has been a surge in 18-year-olds applying to There has been a surge in 18-year-olds applying to study nursing in England

There has been a surge in 18-year-olds applying to study nursing in England, a report from UCAS has shown.

The report found that the record number of applications from 18-year-olds has been accompanied by an overall rise in the number of nursing applicants across all ages, with 28,815 choosing a nursing course in England as their first choice through UCAS.

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‘The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the profession and the surge in applications to study nursing is very welcome,’ said RCN Director for England Patricia Marquis.

‘However, record numbers of applications after so long with insufficient numbers doesn't equate to the nursing supply needed to meet long-term patient demand. These students won’t qualify until 2024 and beyond so this isn't a quick fix to the staffing crisis.’

The number of 18-year-olds choosing to study nursing has increased by 38% to reach 7,105 since 2019, with the number of applicants aged 21 and over choosing to study nursing up by over a third (34%) since 2019 to reach 17,415. The report also reveals that 30% more students applied for mental health nursing courses compared to 2019.

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However, according to the RCN, the figures are less impressive when compared to the number of nursing degree applicants in 2016, when the bursary was last available to financially support student nurses. The current boost in numbers does not make up for the significant drop off in applicants after this time.

‘Many of the existing nursing workforce are thinking of leaving the profession because of the unrelenting pressures and because they feel undervalued, exhausted and that they can’t give patients the level of care they want,’ added Ms Marquis.

‘Ministers now need to grip the situation or risk this wave of enthusiasm being squandered.’

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