NHS workers protesting for better pay (Image credit: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona/Unsplash).

Applications for nursing degrees fell again this year, the latest UCAS figures have shown.

Data published in February reveals that applications to study nursing for the next academic year (2023-24) have dropped across all age demographics.

According to UCAS, the overall number of applications across all ages fell to 33,570 compared to 41,220 in 2022, representing a decrease of 19 per cent.

But the most significant drops in applications are shown by those in the 30-34 and 25-29 age categories.

At 25 per cent, the 30-34 age group showed the largest percentage decrease with 2,830 applicants this year compared to 3,790 in 2022.

This was closely followed by the 25-29 age demographic which fell by 24 per cent with 3,260 people applying compared to 4,310 last year.

Figures from previous years show how there was an increase in applications across all age groups from 2020 to 2021 during the Coronavirus pandemic.

However, these figures began to wane from 2021 to 2022 according to the data made available by UCAS.

This year’s overall drop in applications to study nursing comes as key workers across the health sector continue to take industrial action for better pay and conditions.

In January, an Ipsos poll of 1,080 adults found that only 30% of the public opposed the planned nurses’ strikes.

Amy Hill, practice nurse, said: “These figures aren’t surprising. The nurses’ strikes have highlighted the difficulties we are experiencing with a lack of government investment in the NHS in the right places.

“With nurses now paying for their own training, they come out of their degree with debt and a low pay job.

“Nurses need to be valued for their knowledge, experience and professional status”


“I think the drop in applications is a result of the long hours, stressful conditions and not getting the support to consolidate practice once we have qualified – and these issues have been worsened by the cost-of-living crisis,” she continued.

“Nurses need to be valued for their knowledge, experience and professional status. But at the moment they aren’t.”