The number of nursing students in England placed on undergraduate courses has fallen 4%, according to this year’s data.
Figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) have revealed that 15,490 students were placed onto nursing courses in England.
This is down by 4% on the 16,100 in 2017.
Since 2016, the last year where students starting courses had access to the NHS bursary, the number of students placed onto nursing courses in England has fallen 11%.
This contrasts with the situation in the rest of the UK. Northern Ireland and Scotland have seen increases of 2% each, compared to 2017, while Wales has seen a 9% increase in the number of students placed on nursing courses.
There are a further 6,570 students in England holding offers for nursing courses, but the outcome has yet to be resolved. For example, the student may yet to have met the conditions of a particular offer.
The Royal College of Nursing said this highlighted how the Government have left nursing in ‘managed decline’.
Dame Donna Kinnair, the College’s director of nursing policy and practice, said: ‘Ministers’ decisions on student funding have left nursing in managed decline. Today’s figures should be the wake-up call the Government needs to properly address the staffing crisis that’s putting safe and effective patient care at risk.
‘It is time to stop tinkering around the edges – the Government’s ad-hoc approach is clearly not working. We urgently need comprehensive workforce plans that safeguard recruitment and retention and responds to patient need in each country. This should include a range of incentives to attract more nursing students.
She added: ‘Although we will see additional students placed through clearing in the coming weeks, today’s figures mean fewer nurses will enter our understaffed healthcare system in three years’ time, further jeopardising patient care. This situation cannot be allowed to continue.’
The figures are the latest from UCAS showing a continued decline in nursing applications and placements onto nursing undergraduate courses. In April, UCAS released data that showed a 10% fall in nursing applications, up to the March deadline. For the January deadline, official figures found a 13% fall.
Number of students placed onto nursing courses, UCAS 2018