The fall comes after official NHS figures last week revealed record levels of vacant nursing posts.
An independent report has found that a quarter of nursing students are dropping out before graduating.
RCN warns that funding decisions have left nursing in ‘managed decline’ as student nurse numbers fall for a second year.
Half of universities in England consider axing learning disability nurse courses as number of specialist nurses falls by 40% in eight years.
Ministers must look again at student funding, the RCN says, as nursing degree applications fall further.
RCN calls for suicide prevention training to be introduced for all nursing staff.
The RCN has pledged its support for #iwill, a campaign that promotes social action among 10-20 year olds.
The RCN warns that taking away financial support is likely to further decrease student nurse numbers.
The RCN has called on the Education Secretary to investigate and write-off loan overpayments made to students.
The RCN has called on the Student Loans Company (SLC) to write off the overpayments which could leave many struggling.