There has been a sharp drop in the number of mature students applying for nursing courses following the removal of the NHS Bursary.
UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, data shows a drop of more than 25% in the number of over-25s applying to begin courses with 6,000 fewer mature students applying (March 2016 v March 2017).
Overall nursing degree applications have dropped by 23 per cent.
The Royal College of Nursing and Unison have consistently warned the Government that its decision to scrap bursaries and start charging fees would result in a decreased number of applications.
Nursing degree students in England will pay fees from August 2017.
Janet Davies, RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary, said: “Ministers were warned of this worrying trend in January and they had two months before the final application deadline to sort it out. The Government scrapped the bursaries students relied on and imposed fees. This leaves a serious concern that the Government is storing up problems for the future.”
Mature applicants bring much-valued life experience into nursing but are also particularly drawn to the parts of the NHS that find it hardest to recruit, such as mental health and learning disability services.
“Plans to transform mental health care rely on these nurses and the Government must not allow services to be hampered by the fall,” added Janet.