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UCAS figures: fall in accepted applicants onto nursing courses ‘will add to growing workforce crisis’

18 Aug 2022

RCN calls for increased financial support for nursing students on A-level results day.

Nursing student learning

Figures from UCAS released today (18 August) show there are currently 21,130 accepted applicants onto nursing courses in the UK this year.

Pat Cullen, RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive, has congratulated those who’ve been accepted. “They’ve made a fantastic decision and a rewarding nursing career awaits them. Seeing thousands of young people decide their future is in nursing spurs us on to keep fighting for the profession they’ll join,” she said.

However, this year’s figures represent a fall in applicants being accepted onto nursing courses, with a drop of 7% from 2021.

Pat added: “To address the staffing crisis and give the kind of care patients deserve, we need these figures to look even stronger. Sadly, they have headed in the wrong direction this year.

“The impact of this drop in acceptances to nursing courses, along with the drop in applications this year, must not be underestimated. It will only add to the growing nursing workforce crisis.”

The RCN is calling on ministers across the UK to urgently reward today’s experienced staff with a fair pay rise. We’re campaigning for an NHS pay rise of 5% above inflation. This would “show tomorrow’s staff that a career in nursing shouldn’t come with a personal finance sacrifice”, Pat said.

“Nursing students in higher education should have access to adequate financial support for tuition and the cost of living. This would encourage more to join nurse education. Our nursing students must be able to prioritise their education without heavy debts and worries.”

Recruitment to the nursing profession has never been more vital. The future of the health and social care system relies on its people, and it’s essential that nursing staff get the support they need to continue delivering the best possible care.

For those who are considering nursing as a career, there is still time to apply after A-level results day, UCAS clearing is an opportunity to re-think options. A nursing degree can open up a world of possibilities with lots of different specialties, including mental health and learning disabilities, where there are current workforce shortages.  

Page last updated - 16/01/2023