Figures published by UCAS on Monday show the number of students on nursing courses has fallen by a further 18 percent.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) has revealed that the total number of potential students applying for nursing degrees has dropped by a further 18 percent after a drop of 23% last year.
The total number of applicants to nursing for 2017 was 54,985 - 11,750 fewer than in 2016. UCAS report that this 18% drop is the ‘biggest fall in nursing applicants on record’. UCAS also noticed there were far fewer acceptances for older applicants.
Figures suggest that, per applicant, it was easier to be accepted onto a nursing degree this year than ever before.
Clare Marchant, Chief Executive of UCAS, said:
"It’s great to see these high numbers of acceptances onto nursing courses, despite a switch from NHS bursaries to tuition fees for nursing subjects at English universities.
“As the majority of UK acceptances to nursing courses (78 per cent in 2017) are from England, nursing is particularly sensitive to changes in behaviour from English applicants.
“The general decline in older applicants entering higher education, which we have noted as a trend, is highly pronounced in nursing subjects. Ucas is keen to investigate this further, working with partners in the sector.”
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and UNISON blame the drop on the decision to remove bursaries for student nurses - which could see nurses graduating with up to £50,000 of debt - and say that services that are already finding it hard to recruit may only find it harder in the future.