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Demand for nursing places outstrips supply


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.


Readers' comments (13)

  • Perhaps those who didn't get in had a lucky escape? 3 years of hard work, dedication and sacrifice with no jobs available at the end of it, a vastly underpaid, undervalued and overstretched profession ...

    I'm not sure I'd advise anyone to become a Nurse now in this country.

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  • although i had always wanted to be a nurse since i was little and used to play nurses and doctors my parents, a nurse and a doctor, did everything in their power to discourage me. i took a different career path trying to follow their advice but nevertheless migrated into nurse training at the age of 29 in the london teaching hospital where i was born, where my parents trained and where i had worked prior to training. my parents, and wonderful role models of selfless care for patients throughout my career, had to admit how proud they were when I qualified!

    I have never regretted it and interspersed with a few brief negative experiences in the NHS have enjoyed a wonderful long career in Europe where there is absolutely no comparison with the impoverished working conditions in the UK.

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  • Mike, as you so clearly hate nursing and never, ever, have a good word to say about it or your colleagues, may I be so bold as to suggest you find a job that actually does make you happy? that would open up a space for someone else. Someone with a bit of optimism and enthusiasm perhaps?

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  • It is not surprising that it is such a popular course, with work experience thrown in with a degree, and not to mention the bursary with no tuition fees to pay back. What an easy way to obtain a degree. However, I don't decry the number of applicants that really want to be nurses.

    Anonymous | 30-Aug-2011 2:13 pm

    Well said

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  • Anonymous | 30-Aug-2011 2:13 pm perhaps if there were more people like me, and less people like yourself, the conditions that Nurses have to work in in this country would not be so bad?

    I love the job, the role, but I hate the conditions we are forced to put up with. As do many others. The difference between me and many others is that I am not afraid to speak out against those conditions. What is wrong with that exactly? Any other job has workers who speak out against unsafe working conditions and staffing levels, attacks on pay and pensions, go on strike, etc, and I do not decry them that right, so why do you think we as Nurses should be different? I suggest you grow a backbone and start fighting for the profession, so that those coming into it with enthusiasm and optimism can actually work in decent conditions (and actually have a post to go into) and maintain that enthusiasm and optimism in what should be an amazing career.

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  • Anonymous | 30-Aug-2011 2:13 pm

    comment has no relevance to this article.

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  • Surprise, Surprise... the question is how many of them will become registered nurses and how many will do a post grad in something else (primary teaching, etc)- vastly reducing their uni debt.

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  • I suggest you grow a backbone and start fighting for the profession,

    Interesting... there is more than 1 way (your way)of doing things Mike. I can assure you I do have a backbone and fight for my profession every day. I have just found more constructive ways of doing it than just moaning on and on via an internet forum that (I can promise you) the people that need to listen don't read. That is my point. That has been my point all along but please keep coming back, am enjoying needling you enormously

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  • Anonymous | 31-Aug-2011 3:42 pm, you are not needling me at all, I just think your comments are pointless. But your comment "am enjoying needling you enormously", just shows you up as petty and pathetic really doesn't it. You need to grow up a little.

    NHS Nurse you raise a good point of how many people who start the course want to be a Nurse, or just want a degree, any degree. I like to think the latter are in the
    absolute minority but I suspect there will probably be the odd one, just as there are on any course. But I do not agree that the fact that there are no tuition fees is the primary reason many will choose Nursing as a career, there are so many other factors involved and the fact that the demand is outstripping the supply surely is down to the scrapping of many places on the course in the first place more than anything. But even for the odd minority that do choose Nursing for the wrong reasons, surely the course itself and the demands it places on people would needle most of these people out though?

    I think in this current climate people undertaking ANY degree need to ask themselves very seriously will it be worth it, and that is doubly true for Nurses I think. It may be a 'free' degree in terms of not having to pay ridiculous amounts of money in fees, but what is the point in a Nursing degree if you want to do something else? And it is certainly not without its sacrifices, working practically full time for three years without pay etc, this is one of the primary reasons for the relatively low retention rate. And as I said earlier, Nursing is in the same boat as many degrees now, will it be beneficial for anyone to study to become a Nurse now when the jobs simply aren't available for them? And for those who do get jobs, the pay and conditions simply do not reflect the level of qualification or the sacrifice/effort made to get it? These are very serious questions that need to be asked if we are to have a good, robust workforce. To train and retain the best staff, the pay and conditions must be there to keep them, or they will go elsewhere, it is a simple fact. ANY private sector career knows that, hell, the banks even used it as an excuse to keep their ridiculously sized bonuses! Having fewer trained Nurses coming through the system, and having many of them choosing not to enter the profession at all or emigrating due to poor conditions in this country can potentially lead to another Nursing shortage in a few years.

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  • It seems any degree can get you into nursing, so t must be similar that a nursing degree can open other avenues in other professions. There are so many people with degrees nowadays, which must eventually dilute it's credibility. Sadly, many who have studied for 3 years to gain a degree (particularly non-nursing here) are stocking supermarket shelves or working at McD's or BK. It must be very demoralising

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