Ben HaywardFebruary 4th
2021

A record number of students have been accepted onto medicine courses in the last year according to the universities admissions body, Ucas. 

In total, 10,625 people were accepted to study medicine at UK universities in 2020, a rise of over a third since 2017 when 7,750 were accepted, reports The Independent.

The increase comes as many institutions have expanded the number of medical places they are able to offer over the past few years, said Ucas. 

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A report from the Institute of Economic Affairs free-market think thank, that was released in October 2020 warned that the NHS was facing an imminent staffing crisis in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic due to a shortage of doctors. 

It stated that importing doctors from abroad would be ‘essential’ over the next decade to meet increased demand from an ageing population in the UK. 

As well, the Ucas data reveals that the demand for nursing places has risen above 60,000 for the first time since the government scrapped bursaries in 2017, meaning that nurses were required to pay full tuition fees. 

The number of applicants applying for nursing courses dropped to below 55,000 between 2017 and 2019 - having not dipped below 60,000 for years, however 62,920 applications were made in 2020. 

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This figure is roughly the same as that from 2011, however acceptances onto courses were 57% higher, Ucas said. 

Clare Marchant, the chief executive of Ucas, said it was ‘pleasing’ to see students had been ‘inspired by the work of the NHS’ with more ‘mature applications and 18-year-olds applying for nursing’.

In 2019, Boris Johnson said all students on nursing courses from September 2020 would receive a £5,000 a year grant, with additional payments of up to £3,000 available for students in regions or specialisms struggling to recruit.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, it was revealed that the NHS had a shortage of around 40,000 nurses, and although the government pledged to recruit 50,000 more nurses by 2024, it turned out that in actual fact the number was made up from 31,000 new recruits, with the rest consisting of people who’d been persuaded to remain in the workforce.

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