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Feeling financially squeezed

12 December 2019
3 min read
Volume 28 · Issue 22

In 2017 the bursary for student nurses in England was removed in an effort by the Government to reduce the cap on places and boost recruitment to undergraduate nursing programmes. Under this new model the savings from the bursary and cost of living loans would be directed into healthcare delivery and, with funding no longer a limitation to the number of places available, it was predicted that recruitment would increase by 10 000 student nurses by 2020 (Health Education England (HEE), 2016).

Sadly these predictions did not come to pass. Applications to nursing programmes in England have fallen by 32% since the removal of the bursary was announced (UCAS, 2019). There are fewer 18-year-olds in the general population (Office for National Statistics, 2019), which has a direct impact. We have also witnessed diminishing numbers of applications from those who historically brought a wide range of professional as well as life experience to a profession that requires advanced communication skills, emotional resilience, intellectual capacity and physical stamina: the mature student. In 2016 the average age of a student nurse at entry was 29. UCAS (2019) figures indicate that the number of applicants over the age of 20 has dropped by 40%. These factors have a significant impact on recruitment to nursing and yet, they seem to have been largely discounted by the decision makers.

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