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UCAS figures showing applicants to nursing courses in Scotland down by 8.3%

15 Feb 2024

UCAS figures released today (15 February) show another decrease on the number of applicants for nursing courses beginning in autumn this year.

University Application Form The figures show that the number of applicants for nursing courses in Scotland is down 8.3% compared to the same point last year.

By the January deadline, 4,650 people had applied to study nursing in Scotland, compared to 5,070 at the same point last year. This is now the third year in a row where there has been a decrease and in Scotland the number of applicants remains below pre-pandemic levels.

There are still several months left in this year’s application cycle, but these figures are a worrying snapshot following on from the fall in acceptances onto undergraduate nursing courses at Scottish universities in 2023 by 11% compared to the year before.

Commenting, Eileen McKenna, RCN Scotland Associate Director, said:

“Nursing remains a fantastic career but these figures suggest getting that message across to potential applicants is getting harder and harder every year. For anyone considering nursing as a career but think they have missed the opportunity to apply this year be reassured that universities across Scotland are still accepting applications. Just get in touch with your preferred university for further information.”

“That’s now three years in a row that the number of applicants at this time of year has fallen and it’s an extremely worrying trend. Scotland does not have the number of nurses now that it needs to meet the demand for care in health and social care services. The NHS alone has more than 3,700 registered nurse vacancies. 

“This is a desperate situation and it is more important than ever that the Ministerial Nursing and Midwifery Taskforce proposes the right actions to directly address the workforce challenges. The Scottish government must back the Taskforce up by finding the financial resources needed to deliver change and ensure nursing is positioned as a career of choice.”


Page last updated - 15/02/2024