Although many subject areas may have been short in applications over the last couple of years, nursing and health and social care have seen sharp increases. 

The first lockdown period (23 March – 30 June 2020 deadline) saw nearly double the number of applications to nursing:

Table showing nursing applicants by age, domicile and gender

(UCAS Nursing application report)

The highest increase is from those aged 18. Young people have been hit hard by the pandemic, and responded with compassion. Nearly half of all new applicants said COVID-19 had increased their likelihood of applying. One in four cite the current high profile of healthcare workers as a significant influence.

This trend is matched by a corresponding rise in acceptances. Nursing acceptances reached a record high of 37,805 – up 24.4% from 2019.

However, whilst uptake is increasing, retention is becoming an issue. The Nursing Standard 2020 study revealed that 1 in 4 care sector students drop out of the course. This ongoing issue with training retention was highlighted in a recent article in the Nursing Times.

What does this mean for universities? Brand activity and messaging is crucial to inspire and support students, encouraging them to stick out a tough challenge. COVID-19 is just one of the pressures piling on the NHS. But the challenge of this role creates job satisfaction and camaraderie that people can’t find elsewhere. That’s how you convince student nurses to stick out the course.