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Universities ‘turning away nursing students’ despite NHS shortage

It is “paradoxical” that universities are turning away thousands of prospective nursing degree students at a time of chronic healthcare staff shortages, according to a long-term plan for the National Health Service.

Although 22,000 students were accepted onto nursing courses in England in 2018, across the UK as a whole some 14,000 applicants were not accepted. In the plan, the NHS said that “at a time of staff shortage across the NHS it is, to say the least, paradoxical that many thousands of highly motivated and well-qualified applicants who want to join the health service are being turned away”. The health service currently has 40,000 nursing vacancies.

The NHS plan, published 7 January, states that some universities are setting unnecessarily high entry requirements, pointing out that “a number of higher education institutions have entry tariffs well above the levels set by other higher education institutions and deemed to meet appropriate standards by the Nursing and Midwifery Council”.

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