Students are inspired by the pandemic to pursue nursing careers, new report shows

20 January 2022

A new national report on the next generation of nurses has been welcomed by the University of Hertfordshire, as data shows a rise in nursing applications since the start of the pandemic.

Next Steps: Who are the ‘future nurses’?, published today by UCAS and Health Education England (HEE), illustrates an increased appetite for careers in nursing, despite the adversity of the COVID-19 pandemic. A record number of students were accepted onto nursing programmes across the UK in 2020, up almost a third from the previous year. While the pandemic has brought huge challenges to healthcare services, it has also demonstrated the vital work done by practitioners at all levels and provided inspiration for a new generation – with over two-thirds of 2021 applicants citing the pandemic as the most important factor in their decision.

The national picture is reflected at the University of Hertfordshire, with the School of Health and Social Work seeing a consistent increase in nursing applications since the start of the pandemic. This marks the latest phase in the continued growth of the University’s healthcare courses, which combine research-informed teaching, contemporary simulated learning, and ‘real-world’ clinical practice experience in placements with sector partners, enabling students to graduate as skilled and confident professional nurses.

The University successfully attracts a diverse population to its nursing programmes across all four fields of practice: adult nursing, children’s nursing, learning disability nursing, and mental health. Consistent with the findings of the national report, the University has also seen a recent shift in demographics, with more 18 years olds as well as a sustained population of mature students being attracted to the nursing profession.

Professor Jackie Kelly, Dean of the School of Health and Social Work, welcomed the report: “I’m pleased to see our experience reflected in today’s report, highlighting the growing enthusiasm for nursing as an incredibly rewarding career option. The knowledge, dedication and resilience shown by our health and care alumni, and the sector as a whole, in response to the pandemic has been incredible, and has also served to highlight the fantastic opportunities within health and care.

“We are very proud of our dedicated nursing students, many of whom continue to work in the region after graduation, contributing their skills, knowledge and expertise to advance the quality of patient care across Hertfordshire, West Essex, London and beyond.

“As today’s report emphasises, this is not just about sheer numbers of people attracted to our courses. Nursing education is about educating a future workforce who will provide an outstanding quality of care for all of us when we need it. Our commitment does not end at graduation: we continue to support our graduates and partners through postgraduate study opportunities, ongoing professional development, and lifelong learning for our nurses throughout their careers”.

Nursing at the University of Hertfordshire comprises a large, diverse provision with options for undergraduate, postgraduate and degree apprenticeship study, providing a broad range of pathways through which people can enter the profession. A priority for the University is to develop more clinical placements in collaboration with provider partners – something that is identified in the UCAS and HEE report as a key area of focus across the sector1.

The full report, Next Steps: Who are the ‘future nurses’?, can be found online on the UCAS website.

Visit the School of Health and Social Work web pages to find out more about studying nursing at Herts.

1Next Steps: Who are the ‘future nurses’?, p.7


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