Huge congratulations to all who, earlier this month, secured the necessary qualifications to begin their mental health nurse education in the coming academic year. Welcome to the profession, and to the start of a rewarding career.
Following the publication of A level results on August 17th, as John Baker was first to point out, over 50 UK higher education institutions (HEIs) went to clearing to recruit new mental health nursing students:
That, as John suggested, seemed a large number by any measure: worth noting is that Mental Health Nurse Academics UK counts representatives from just over 60 HEIs. Also worth noting is that this is the first year of recruitment to nursing degrees to follow bursary reform in England: a policy the Department of Health explicitly linked to an expansion in student places. So have universities been to clearing to recruit increased numbers of students – assuming they wanted, and were able, to accept more? Shaun Lintern from the Health Service Journal has been tweeting extracts from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) data analysis service, comparing the numbers of students placed with previous years. Here’s an example from three days ago:
Between now and September 1st 2017 UCAS is publishing daily updates, and as it happens is paying particular attention to nursing: these are in the separate files marked as ‘B7 reporting’. The most recent report, published on August 24th, still shows a fall in the number of people placed on nursing courses compared to 2016:
This is important, but what UCAS is not
displaying is data on the numbers of applicants placed to nursing degrees broken down by field (mental health, learning disability, child and adult). Data on the age of placed applicants is
available, and as Steven Pryjmachuk
points out shows a reduction (compared to 2016) amongst mature students:
Mental health nursing courses attract older applicants, and so may have experienced a disproportionate reduction in the number of new students compared to other fields. But we can’t know for sure, in the absence of having the data. What we do know, though, is that the evidence so far on overall placements to nursing degrees commencing in the 2017-18 academic year suggests that recruitment will be doing little to plug the hole in nursing vacancies.