The healthcare education funding reforms is a transformative policy with cross-cutting implications for both health and education sectors. Through agreed governance arrangements, the Department of Health and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills with health and education partners are working together to consider how these additional places are appropriately baselined (and monitored) against those commissioned for National Health Service workforce planning purposes. This work has to-date involved the assessment of a wide range of data sources which requires further analysis.
At present around two thirds of people who apply to nursing degrees are not accepted for training. In 2015, there were 57,000 unique applications competing for the 20,000 places on nursing degree courses.
Universities have been faced with a position where nursing, midwifery and allied health professional courses are very popular with potential students, but they have not been able to meet demand. Nursing is usually about the fifth most popular subject on the University and College Admission Service (UCAS) system. However, with the costs largely being borne by the NHS, universities have generally been unable to increase nursing, midwifery and allied health professional degree places because of financial constraints. The information used to estimate the level of unmet demand was provided by UCAS and published in the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Report ‘Frontline First’ in April 2015:
Universities are autonomous private institutions. It will be for universities to work as part of their local health economy with placement providers to secure extra placements for additional students. The generation of extra places is a mutually beneficial arrangement between the health sector, universities and their students. Education and training standards will continue to be set United Kingdom-wide by the statutory Nursing and Midwifery Council and Health Care Professionals Council. The Government is currently consulting on the future structure of clinical placement funding. That consultation closes on 30 June. As now, ensuring that all students have access to high quality placements and receive an outstanding placement experience will be a key priority.