New UCAS data published 21 September shows a 14% drop in acceptances onto nursing programmes in Scotland compared to last year.
The number of acceptances onto Scottish nursing courses is 3,300 so far this year. This is a decrease of 550 (14%) compared to the same point in the application cycle last year.
The number of acceptances on nursing courses in Scotland, at this point in the UCAS cycle, is below the pre-pandemic level, with 9.8% fewer acceptances (-360) when compared to this point in 2019.
While these are not the final UCAS figures for this year, with clearing open until 17 October, it is extremely concerning to see this drop in acceptances. This follows a drop in the number of acceptances onto nursing courses in Autumn 2022.
Eileen Mckenna, RCN Scotland Associate Director, said: “This drop in acceptances onto nursing courses in Scotland is a real cause for concern amid the stubbornly high registered nurse vacancy rates and ongoing workforce challenges which are compromising patient safety and the wellbeing of staff.
“Our recent report on the costs of becoming a nurse highlighted the significant financial pressures that student nurses are facing. The prospect of starting a degree course during a cost-of-living crisis is bound to be having an impact. Nursing is a hugely diverse profession and relies on attracting people of all ages and all walks of life, often as a second career.
“The Scottish government needs to demonstrate that nursing is valued and a career choice worth pursuing. The Ministerial Nursing and Midwifery Taskforce provides an opportunity to ensure that current and future nursing students get the financial support they need to prioritise their education, cope with the rising cost of living and finish their studies successfully without falling into financial hardship.”