What Does The Future Hold For Nursing Applications?

The University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) has revealed that the number of nursing applications has reduced by 4,800 in 2018, which is 12% lower than the number of nursing applications made in the previous year.

In a bid to encourage younger people to consider nursing applications in the future, NHS England launched an £8 million campaign earlier this year, which coincided with the NHS’ 70th birthday. The campaign targeted secondary school children, with the hopes that they will consider a career in nursing or midwifery.

The focus on a younger target market is arguably in response to the steep fall in nursing applications made by mature students, which has fallen by 40% since 2016; this, notably, was the year in which financial support offered to nursing students changed from a bursary to a student loan.

However, what does the current fall in the number of nursing applications mean for the NHS and the medical sector?

How are nursing applications changing in the UK?

Unlike most subjects, where mature students make up the minority of applications, over the last 10 years, successful nursing applications have been made by individuals aged 21 and over.

However, since the Government’s decision to retract bursaries for nurses became effective in 2016, nursing applications made by mature students has significantly declined. Arguably, this is because mature students are more likely to be influenced by financial aid, or the lack thereof. Typically, mature students also submit their nursing applications later in the year than younger students, who receive the relevant UCAS training during their A-Levels or college education.

However, while mature students may be showing a reluctance in submitting nursing applications, younger people still see the potential in the vocation: the number of nursing applications made by 18-year-olds has steadily increased every year since 2013.

A recent UCAS survey showed that for the first time since 2008, successful nursing applications were made by people aged 18, compared to those aged 21-25. There has also been a rise in nursing applications accepted through clearing than in previous years.

What does the falling rate mean for the medical sector?

Government ministers had promised that the removal of bursaries would create 10,000 more nursing roles, thus encouraging nursing applications; however, this did not happen. Nevertheless, there has been a 25% expansion in training places to accommodate for an increase in nursing applications in the future.

While feelings of reluctance towards nursing applications are certainly evident amongst mature students, the number of young people submitting nursing applications is steadily on the rise. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has expressed concerns that areas such as learning disabilities and mental health will suffer as a result of the decline in mature student nursing applications, as these sectors benefit from the life experiences of mature students. However, the abundance of job roles available could be an incentive for younger people to embark on a nursing career, as there is an obvious demand for nurses in the UK.

The UK’s nursing landscape is also adapting to accommodate European and non-EU students in a bid to save the NHS and private healthcare systems, providing patients with adequate care, and instigating initiatives to attract future employees to the healthcare sector.

As the baby-boomer generation enters retirement, they will require more healthcare, and so the demand for nurses is set to rise, providing ample job opportunities for younger people interested in submitting nursing applications.

If you are considering a career as a nurse, visit the EBPCOOH recruitment website to find the latest nursing positions and job adverts, or call 03000 243 333 to speak with a recruitment consultant for friendly career advice.