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Surrey puts its students on track for leadership

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The University of Surrey offers student nurses excellent teaching and placements in a glorious setting

melaine coward index

melaine coward index

Dr Melanie Coward says Surrey’s students are practice-ready upon graduation

Choosing where to study to become a nurse is an important decision and should ideally be based on objective, authoritative information. The Complete University Guide is a trusted source of such information; its rankings are based on 10 measures including student satisfaction and graduate prospects. In both 2017 and 2018 the University of Surrey was its top-ranked provider of nursing education in England.

Dr Melaine Coward, head of the university’s school of health sciences, is justifiably proud of Surrey’s high ranking, and believes its interprofessional focus contributes significantly to this.

“We have a fantastic interprofessional team here and have put a lot of emphasis on interprofessional learning in health sciences,” she explains. “Our student nurses learn common subjects alongside other disciplines including midwives, paramedics and operating department practitioners in years 1, 2 and 3, which really helps them be-come well-rounded health professionals.”

The university takes around 260 students across adult, child and mental health nursing, and another key factor Dr Coward credits with influencing its rankings is the calibre of people accepted onto its courses.

“Our recruitment processes are very robust – it’s actually pretty hard to get in here,” she says. “That means we have excellent students who do well on the course and beyond.”

While many newly qualified nurses find themselves on a steep learning curve in their first few months as registered practitioners, Dr Coward says this is not the case for graduates from the University of Surrey.

“Our students are practice-ready when they qualify,” she says. “They are critical thinkers and move into leadership positions at an early stage in their careers. They are dynamic, and outspoken when they need to be – they make me extremely proud!”

Dr Coward attributes this readiness for practice to the students themselves, and to the quality of clinical placements the university can offer. Most placements are with organisations that have been rated “good” or “outstanding” by the Care Quality Commission in Surrey, Sussex or Hampshire. However, the university has also recently forged a partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children to offer children’s nursing students the opportunity to gain clinical experience in a world-renowned setting. The intake of students on the university’s children’s nursing course doubled as a result.

In addition to offering high-quality education, the university places a high priority on nursing research. Its particular research areas include:

● Acute, critical and emergency care;

● Ethics in care;

● Long-term conditions and ageing;

● Workforce organisation and wellbeing;

● Maternal, child and family health;

● Clinical innovation;

● Cancer care;

● eHealth.

Being taught by research-active staff motivates students to appreciate the importance of research and aspire to undertake their own. It also gives them the experience and confidence to critically appraise published research rather than simply taking it at face value.

The excellent academic and clinical education they receive means Surrey student nurses have great job prospects once they graduate; the Complete University Guide scores the university 99 out of a possible 100 on this measure. Unsurprisingly, this translates into high levels of student satisfaction – something the university takes extremely seriously.

“We have very active staff/student liaison group, and at the beginning of every academic year we report on the student feedback we received the previous year – and what we did in response to that feedback,” says Dr Coward. “In the school of health sciences we pride ourselves on being responsive to our students and to continually improving what we offer them.”

But its highly rated courses aren’t all the University of Surrey has to offer student nurses. They study on a stunning campus that includes on-site accommodation and a range of eating and entertainment amenities, and is just a few minutes’ walk from the centre of Guildford. The town is lively and welcoming with a vibrant and buzzing student social scene, and university student societies are very much involved in the community: student nurses have been involved in providing healthcare for homeless people and offering blood pressure checks in the town centre.

Offering academic excellence and a great place to be a student, it is hardly surprising that the University of Surrey is ranked the best nurse education provider in England. Why not let it help you to become the best nurse you can be?


Find out more

The University of Surrey is running

open days on 22 and 23 June for prospective students to see first-hand what it has to offer. To register to attend, visit

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