Council responds to new data on changes in healthcare student numbers

19 September 2019

The Council of Deans of Health has responded to new data released by the Office for Students analysing the number of students starting nursing, midwifery and allied health courses from 2016-17 to 2017-18. The data shows a drop in student numbers across several subjects over this period which spans the introduction of funding reforms in 2017/18. The Council noted the contribution of the reforms to the decline in numbers and reiterated its call for the introduction of additional financial support for students in the form of maintenance grants and the consideration of forgivable loans in order to support recruitment.

Dr Katerina Kolyva, Executive Director of the Council, said:

“We have been working closely with the Office for Students and we welcome their work in identifying gaps and opportunities to increase recruitment to healthcare courses.

“The release of this data provides greater insight into the changes that took place following the introduction of the funding reforms. Such a significant change inevitably carried risk and we have previously suggested mitigations to help to protect both student numbers and the most vulnerable courses. The data shows that the initial impact of the reforms varied considerably depending on subject with some courses, such as physiotherapy, being able to increase numbers whilst others saw decreases.

“Data for 2019/20 does show an improvement on previous years but we remain concerned about those courses struggling to fill places and about the decline in mature students. In these areas there is a need for further work to support applications in order that we can provide the future workforce the NHS needs. In particular we would like to see the introduction of maintenance grants for healthcare students and the consideration of tuition fee repayment in return for service, both of which would help to support recruitment and retention on these courses.

“The Council continues to work closely with the Office for Students and other policy makers in the education and health sectors to achieve an increase in recruitment to healthcare courses”.


Notes to editors:

  1. The Council of Deans of Health is the voice of the deans and heads of UK university faculties for nursing, midwifery and the allied health professions. For further information:
  2. Office for Students Changes in healthcare students numbers
  3. For more information on this press release, please contact Jon Eames, 07496 693 806.

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