The future of Britain is at stake as university applications have fallen by 5 per cent. When the NHS was struggling to fill the nursing posts, there is fall in nursing students because of the cut in grants
This is the first fall in UK applications since fees were last increased in 2012. The Royal College of Nursing blamed the 23% drop in nursing applications on the removal of bursaries, BBC reported.
The number of nursing applicants in England has fallen by 23% since 2016. There were 43,800 applicants in England in January 2016 and 33,810 in January 2017. This means 9,990 fewer people have chosen to study nursing compared to last year.
The RCN has consistently warned the Government that the decision to charge fees to nursing students in England, and replace NHS bursaries with student loans from September 2017, would result in decreased applications.
The Government said removing funding would create an extra 10,000 training places this parliament, and encourage more people to enter the profession.
Janet Davies, RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary, said: “We warned the Government the removal of student funding would see a sharp drop in nursing applications. These figures confirm our worst fears.
“The nursing workforce is in crisis and if fewer nurses graduate in 2020 it will exacerbate what is already an unsustainable situation.”
She added: “The outlook is bleak – fewer EU nurses are coming to work in the UK following the Brexit vote, and by 2020 nearly half the workforce will be eligible for retirement.
“With 24,000 nursing vacancies in the UK, the Government needs to take immediate action to encourage more applicants by reinstating student funding and investing in student education – the future of nursing, and the NHS, is in jeopardy.”
The Ucas admissions figures, up to the January deadline for courses starting in the autumn, show a 5% drop in UK students and 7% drop in students from the European Union – with a total of about 564,000.
Universities have been warning about the impact of Brexit on their finances if European applications fall and these figures show a significant decline in candidates from the EU.
The fall in applications in England of 6% has been three times greater than in Scotland at 2%, which remains without tuition fees.
Applications from Wales fell most, by 7%, and Northern Ireland by 5%.
Sorana Vieru, vice-president of the National Union of Students, told BBC that the fall in applicants was “disappointing, but not a surprise”.
“Uncertainty around increases in tuition fees, loss of maintenance grants and the rising costs of living and studying at university are too much of a risk to some potential students,” she said.