Nursing degree entry requirements should be lowered to boost student numbers

A report claims young people are deterred from a career in nursing by the grades required to apply.

Matt Bodell
17 May 2019
student nurse staff nurse

Universities usually require a minimum of three A-levels at C-grade or above.

Universities should “remove unnecessary entry requirements” for undergraduate nursing degrees in order to boost student numbers, a report by the Open University (OU) states.

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An investigation into why one in twenty nursing places were unfilled this year, found young people are put off a career in nursing by the grades required to apply.

Universities usually require a minimum of three A-levels at C-grade or above.

The report calls for universities to consider lowering these requirements, which are above the minimum GCSEs at C-grade or above in English and Maths (or equivalent) set by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

‘Unnecessary entry requirements’.

The OU claims these “unnecessary entry requirements” can leave those “who are passionate about becoming a nurse without the opportunity to apply for a place” and

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Other perceived barriers identified by the report include; student loans, long working hours, stress on the job and travel requirements.

To tackle these barriers, the OU suggests universities should deliver lectures digitally – allowing students more flexibility in their study and reducing the need to travel.

Addressing the identified barriers could see an additional 10,000 registered nurses in the next ten years, which would start to fill the estimated 40,000 nursing vacancies.

‘Devastating’.

Sally Boyle, Head of School in the Faculty of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care at The Open University said; “It is devastating that at a time when the healthcare sector is under enormous pressure there are so many people who are being deterred from pursuing a nursing career.”

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“Something must be done to overcome the issues of under-subscription and trainee attrition, so that the NHS and other healthcare providers can continue to provide safe patient care.”

“There are a number of barriers to studying nursing that can be easily addressed if Higher Education Institutions, healthcare employers and the government work together to take advantage of available technologies and initiatives, such as flexible technology-enabled learning and apprenticeships.”

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