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New 10% fall in nursing applicants reported by UCAS

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) has reported a new drop in applicants to nursing undergraduate courses, with 10% fewer applying for the March 2018 deadline compared to March 2017.

Latest figures show that a total of 43,700 applied, down by more than 5,000 on March 2017’s 48,810.

A reduction in the number of applicants from England accounted for the majority (see table), with EU and Northern Irish applicants falling by a combined total of around 300.

Analysis of the applicants by age revealed that it’s 20-29 year olds who are being put off the most from a career in nursing. The number of applicants aged 20-24 fell by just under 1,500, and 25-29 by 1,100, when comparing March 2017 to March 2018. The over 35 group also saw huge decreases in the number of applicants.

UCAS chief executive Clare Marchant called for the review into education funding for applicants over the age of 18 to focus on the over 35s and the challenges they face.

She said: ‘We must not overlook the continuing fall in applications from older UK students, particularly to study nursing. We would like to see the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding in England address specifically the needs of mature students who wish to develop their potential through higher education, whatever subjects or types of study they are interested in.’

The figures are the latest in a long line of reports from UCAS showing a trend of decline in nursing applications.

Numbers for the January 2018 deadline showed a 13% drop, while applications for the main deadline in August last year experience ‘the biggest fall on record’.


Number of nursing applicants by place of application, March 2018 deadline

Place of applicant 2015 2016 2017 2018
England 47,320 47,390 36,720 31,750
Northern Ireland 2,690 2,730 2,570 2,380
Scotland 5,410 5,140 5,020 5,150
Wales 2,920 3,100 2,780 2,780
UK in total 58,340 58,360 47,090 42,050
EU (excluding UK) 1,560 1,580 1,210 1,090
Non-EU 470 410 510 560
Total applicants 60,360 60,350 48,810 43,700

Source: UCAS March deadline analysis 2018