The number of students accepted onto nursing courses in higher education in 2017 was 28,620, the second highest figure on record, a 0.9% decrease on 2016.
Posted Fri 1 December 2017 - 12:26

Record numbers of English 18 and 19 year olds were accepted on to nursing courses in 2017, despite an 18% drop in the number of applications. 

All the figures are included in UCAS’ data and analysis ‘Patterns by subject’ released today (Monday 4 December), in the second wave of information to be published from the UCAS End of Cycle Report 2017.

Clare Marchant, Chief Executive of UCAS, said: ‘It’s great to see these high numbers of acceptances onto nursing courses, despite a switch from NHS bursaries to tuition fees for nursing subjects at English universities. As the majority of UK acceptances to nursing courses (78% in 2017) are from England, nursing is particularly sensitive to changes in behaviour from English applicants. The general decline in older applicants entering higher education, which we have noted as a trend, is highly pronounced in nursing subjects. UCAS is keen to investigate this further, working with partners in the sector.’

The End of Cycle Report 2017 shows a 13% decline in acceptances to nursing subjects in the 21 – 25 age group, and a 6% decline for those aged 26 or above. These decreases have been largely offset by the increased acceptances of younger applicants.

Other subject data headlines

For the first time, the End of Cycle Report 2017 gives greater analytical context for the subjects studied in higher education. Trends in 2017 largely followed those in previous years.

The top five subject groups in 2017, by acceptances, were:

  1. Business and administration.
  2. Subjects allied to medicine.
  3. Biological sciences.
  4. Social studies.
  5. Creative arts and design.

A full list of the 26 subject groups is given in the report.

Other highlights from the subject data include:

  • Since 2008, the largest growth in acceptances is in biological sciences, social studies, and computer sciences.
  • The longer term declines in acceptances to European languages and non-European languages continued.
  • More women than men were accepted for 18 out of the 26 subject groups.
  • More than six women for every man were accepted for education.
  • More than six men for every woman were accepted for computer science.

The End of Cycle Report 2017 is being published in four waves, until publication in full on Thursday 14 December. The above findings all come from the ‘Patterns by subject’ section, which will be uploaded to on Monday 4 December 2017.

There will be a briefing for members of the media at 14:00 on Tuesday 12 December, at BMA House Conference Centre, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JP.

To register for this, and receive further information about the briefing, or for any other questions about the End of Cycle Report 2017, contact:

  • Felicity Cowie, Head of Media and Corporate Communications, at
  • Rosalind Moore, Public Relations and Communications Officer, at or on 01242 545 469.


Notes to editors

Every year, UCAS publishes an End of Cycle Report, which analyses data gathered from each annual cycle of undergraduate applications to higher education in the UK. The growth of this data, and opportunities for analysis and context, has meant that this year, for the first time, UCAS is releasing this material in waves. This enables us to share it as quickly as possible.

  • The material released today under embargo is attached.
  • Key findings from today’s release of information will update our End of Cycle Report 2017 from Monday 4 December.
  • We will issue embargoed media releases, and an updated summary of key findings, ahead of all future waves of published information.

About UCAS

UCAS is a charity, and is the UK's shared admissions service for higher education. We manage applications from around 700,000 applicants each year for full-time undergraduate courses, at over 380 universities and colleges across the UK.

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