There are likely to be at least 27% more applications to university nursing courses than places this year, figures obtained by Nursing Times suggest.
By the end of December, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service had received 29,285 applications to nursing courses - 11% more than in the same period last year.
If the number of university places does not rise above last year’s 23,000, more than 6,000 candidates look set to be rejected.
However, places are widely expected to be cut because of government spending limits.
Council of Deans of Health director of policy Matthew Hamilton said: “It’s a concern that more potential applicants won’t get a place.”
He attributed the rise to the move to make nursing a graduate profession. He said: “People have realised that nursing is a complex profession with a number of skills required - people skills, academic skills.”
Swansea University nursing department head David Barton said competition for places would be “a lot tougher” this year.