System wide support needed for student recruitment

17 August 2023

The University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) has published data following A-level results day 2023 for acceptances to UK undergraduate courses. For undergraduate nursing courses across the UK, it shows a 13% decrease in the number of acceptances while undergraduate midwifery courses show a 3% decrease, as compared to this point in the 2022 cycle. This is set against an overall sector decrease of 3%.

Ed Hughes, CEO at the Council of Deans of Health, said:

‘The Council would like to congratulate all the students who have been accepted onto healthcare courses for this coming year. For those still making decisions or in clearing there remain opportunities through clearing to enrol on pre-registration nursing, midwifery and allied health courses which can lead to fantastic careers with varied options and job opportunities in the future.

Today’s data on acceptances to healthcare courses should be viewed in the wider context of the recruitment patterns before and during the pandemic. Whilst acceptances are down compared to the same point last year they are broadly comparable to 2019. We would urge caution in comparison to recent years as well as waiting until Clearing has finished to get the full picture of the intake onto healthcare programmes for this year.

The financial implications of going to university, especially in the context of a cost of living crisis, are becoming an increasing factor in student considerations. This has a particular impact on healthcare degrees which are intensive courses that see limited opportunities for students to take on part time work and financial strains such as travel to placements.

Our members are working incredibly hard to recruit and retain students that go on to be our future healthcare workforce. However, if the workforce needs are to fulfilled across the UK, and the ambitions of the NHS workforce plan in England are to be realised, then the whole system needs to work together to make healthcare careers attractive and promote these opportunities to prospective students. The Council welcomes working with stakeholders across the sector to support growth in student numbers, including through apprenticeships, and to ensure we have the right education workforce and infrastructure in place for universities to continue to provide high quality programmes.”


  1. Council of Deans of Health briefing on nursing and midwifery undergraduate courses on A-level results day 2023
  2. UCAS Statistical releases

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