The University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) has published data following the January 2023 deadline for applications to UK undergraduate courses. There has been a 19% decrease in the number of applicants to undergraduate nursing courses across the UK compared to 2022, and 22% decrease in the number of applicants to UK undergraduate midwifery courses.
James Hallwood, Head of Policy and External Affairs at the Council of Deans of Health, said:
‘The higher education sector saw extraordinary growth during the Covid-19 pandemic which led to an unprecedented number of applicants to nursing, midwifery and allied health profession courses. Recruitment during the pandemic was in a very different context to the current economic climate, both impacting student motivation and choice. Healthcare courses are intensive and the cost of living crisis is not only affecting those looking to apply to university but those students currently enrolled in terms of financial strains such as travel to placements. Inflation also provides significant challenges to universities in delivering the same high quality courses for less.
While there has been a decrease in nursing and midwifery applicants this year compared to last year, demand for these courses still outweighs capacity and our members are working hard to ensure capacity is sustained. Due to the nature of healthcare courses being both university and practice based there needs to be capacity system wide to support students.
In order for student numbers to be maintained or grown, administrations across the UK must recognise the importance of ensuring students have sufficient financial support, and ensuring we have the right education workforce and infrastructure in place for universities to continue to provide high quality education.’