The Scottish health secretary has revealed that the number of places on nursing and midwifery courses will be cut next year.
Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that the number of students entering degree courses for these professions would be reduced from 3,060 in 2010-11 to 2,700 in 2011-12 after workforce projections showed that the move was "appropriate".
It is expected to save £5 million, to be invested in improving the quality of courses and providing additional support for the one-year guarantee scheme, guaranteeing newly qualified nurses and midwives work once they finish their studies.
Ms Sturgeon said: "Having looked at NHS boards' workforce projections for this year that already reflect changing patterns of care and service delivery, I believe that a reduction in intake for the 2011 academic year is appropriate."
She added: "Setting the intake involves, every year, a sensitive balancing act between ensuring the right number of nurses and midwives for the future on the one hand and avoiding oversupply and graduate unemployment on the other.
"The reduction that I am confirming today strikes that balance."
The Health Secretary said the cut in student numbers, the first such reduction in Scotland for a number of years, was "broadly in line with reductions planned for next year in other part of the UK".
She said: "It is also important to be clear that this is not about saving money. Every penny of the £5 million released will be reinvested in measures to support student and newly-qualified nurses and midwives.
"In particular, it will help us support the one-year guarantee scheme that guarantees newly-qualified nurses and midwives employment when they graduate."
"Nicola Sturgeon was right, I'm a Staff Nurse and I qualified 2 yrs ago. It took me 4 months to secure a post. It's the right time to cut the intake to Health studies, although my personal thought is it should have happened at least a year ago. Well done Nicola" - Robert Davidson, NHS Ayrshire & Arran