The number of mature students applying for nursing degrees has fallen this year, coinciding with the first intake required to pay fees in place of grants.
Figures released by UCAS show 6,000 fewer mature students have applied compared to 2016 – a fall of 28% – while overall nursing degree applications had dropped by 23%.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has previously condemned the scrapping of bursaries, saying it would result in a drop in applicants.
‘These 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,’ said Janet Davies, Chief Executive of the RCN.
‘Plans to transform mental health care rely on these nurses and the Government must not allow services to be hampered by the fall,’ she said.
The Government may be hoping the new Nurse First and apprenticeships schemes, due to be launched this September, will make up for the shortfall of conventional nursing degree applicants.
Research by the Royal College of Nursing found that 24,000 nursing posts across the UK are unfilled.