• The number of nursing students given places to study at university has fallen to lowest number since 2013
  • Medical students reach highest number so far
  • The Royal College of Nursing warned government is nowhere near hitting recruitment targets

The number of student nurses given places at English universities has fallen by 4 per cent between 2018 and 2017 but the number of medicine and dentistry students has increased by 12 per cent, according to the latest data.

UCAS statistics show there were 16,100 places given to study nursing in 2017, which has fallen to 15,490 this year. Since 2016, the overall number of nursing students given places at university has fallen by 11 per cent, or 1,970 students.

This is the second year in a row the number of nursing students achieving places at English universities has fallen following the removal of the student bursary.

Students in all age groups have declined since 2016, with the greatest drops apparent among students over the age of 18, for example, the number of students aged 25 and over has fallen by 20 per cent since 2016 from 4,530 students to 3,640 students.

The number of male nursing students who achieved places has also declined dramatically – since 2016, numbers have dropped from 1,720 to 1,340.

In contrast, the number of medicine and dentistry students has risen by 12 per cent this year – from 5,540 in 2017 to 6,200 in 2018. The government has announced the number of medical training places available to students would be expand from September 2018 to 1,500.

The number of medicine and dentistry students from within the EU also rose by 23 per cent this year compared to 2017, as did students from outside the EU, which rose by 6 per cent.

Dona Kinnair, Royal College of Nursing policy and practice director, said: “Ministers’ decisions on student funding have left nursing in managed decline. Today’s figures should be the wake up call the government needs to properly address the staffing crisis that’s putting safe and effective patient care at risk.”

“Though we will see additional students placed through clearing in the coming weeks, today’s figures mean fewer nurses will enter our understaffed healthcare system in three years’ time,” Ms Kinnair said.

“The government is nowhere near recruiting the 10,000 extra healthcare students we were promised by 2020,” she added.