Change in the profile of nursing students from England

31 October 2017

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  • The number of students applying from England who are starting Nursing at university has dropped 5.5% since last year.
  • This hides changes in the profile of students – with a rise in the number under 20 (+6%), but a fall in older age groups (9% for those aged 20 to 24, and 11% for those older).
  •  This may have ramifications for the viability of certain courses – particularly focusing on mental health and learning disabilities – which have traditionally relied on older students.

 

As of a month after A-level results day, 20,820 students applying from England have been placed on a nursing course. This is a reduction compared to this point last year, of 5.5% or 1,220.

In addition to the fall in student numbers, there has been a shift in the age profile of applicants from England. The number and proportion of 18-year-olds has risen from 19.1% in 2016 to 22.2% in 2017, while the figures for those aged 20 and over have declined.

This is as a result of a 6% increase in the number of placed applicants who are under 20 and falls in those aged 20 to 24 and 25 and over, of 9% and 11% respectively. This drop in the number of students 25 and over returns the numbers to 2015 levels, but is part of a trend in the profile of nursing students.

Whether this change is planned, or what consequence it might have, is unclear. It may cause issues for some nursing courses - particularly focusing on mental health and learning disabilities – which have traditionally relied on older students.

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