More than 15,000 students have been accepted on to nursing courses this year as the profession proved the most popular university course for the second year running.
However, with 10% fewer places than last year and many institutions reporting at least 10 applicants for every place thousands more will have missed out.
Figures from the University College Admissions Service (UCAS) reveal just 4% of these places were filled through the clearing system which is used when unfilled places are opened up to students who failed to get into their first choice.
The Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery at King’s College London had 5,679 applicants for its 461 places, just two of which were filled through clearing. Birmingham University did not have to use clearing to fill any of its 104 places after receiving 1,282 applicants.
UCAS figures showed a 40% increase in the number of places on degree courses this year and a 59% decrease in diploma courses as the profession moves towards graduate-only entry from 2013.
Royal College of Nursing student advisor Gill Robertson told Nursing Times that Wales had seen a similar increase in demand when it went degree only in 2004 as nursing became a “more attractive option”.
She admitted the absence of tuition fees for nursing course was a factor driving increased demand. However, she was pleased that universities had a “huge pool” of applicants from which to choose.