NHS Employers responds to the latest application figures from UCAS

Caroline Waterfield responds to the latest application figures from UCAS

15 February 2024

Responding to the new figures from UCAS which show a drop in applicants to nursing courses for the next academic year, Caroline Waterfield, director of development and employment at NHS Employers, part of the NHS Confederation said:

"The UCAS February data publication is a really important marker for all of those involved in attracting our future workforce for the NHS. One of the top priorities outlined in the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan is to increase the number of adult nurse training places to almost 28,000 over the next five years. The numbers for mental health nursing have even more ambitious growth plans. It is therefore really concerning that the data shows us the number of people applying to mental health and adult nursing courses is lower, as are applications from older candidates.

"The UK has a very competitive labour market. Careers in health and care have a lot to offer - and its important that national campaign activity showcases this over the coming months as people decide to apply to university before the June deadline, and then through clearing processes. We  know that many people, particularly those over 18, apply for healthcare courses between now and the September intake. We cannot afford to be complacent.

"We know from recent history that the introduction of the £5,000 grant to support university students has had a positive impact on students' experience. We also know that additional funding for employers to support the growth of the nurse degree apprenticeship has made a difference to the numbers who could be supported through this route. To deliver the aspirations of the plan, we need both routes to be fully functioning and supporting more people into training programmes.

"It is absolutely vital that successive governments commit to fully funding and delivering the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan so that we can build the NHS the workforce it needs to provide safe, modern and accessible care to patients now and in the future."