Access to HE - Educating our future nurses

Access to HE

Access to HE continues to remain a strong pathway to university; with 33,415 Access to HE learners applying to Universities across England in 2021. This is an increase of 2,425 applicants over the past year.

Of these 33,415 Access to HE applicants, 23,035 ended up in the 2021 year been accepted onto a university degree. Meaning 68.9% of learners with an Access to HE Diploma and that later applied for university were successful in their application.


According to a report published by UCAS in collaboration with Health Education England (HEE), both UCAS and HEE have seen a surge in demand for information related to nursing. An estimation has been given that since the World Health Organisation declared the global pandemic, over 56,000 people have started either an undergraduate nursing course, degree apprenticeship or trainee nursing associate programme. With 69% of applicants stating the pandemic inspired them to apply to study to become a nurse.

At a time when healthcare has played such a key role in keeping us safe throughout the COVID pandemic, it is especially pleasing to see that Nursing applicants as a whole are up across England. A total of 8,210 Access to HE learners had Nursing as a firm choice on their university application and a further 3,505 learners having submitting an application for Nursing as an insurance choice.

Key Findings from Report:

  • Younger applicants finding value in nursing - Numbers of 18-year-olds applying to nursing in 2021 are up 38% relative to 2019, translating into an increase in acceptances of 43%.
  • Nursing is a powerhouse for widening access and participation - 1.4 times more young people from the most disadvantaged areas in the UK. Nursing joins education and health and social care as one of only three subjects where a ‘positive equality gap’ exists for both application and entry to higher education (HE).
  • Men remain an untapped source of nurses - The gender gap is stark with women more than 9 times more likely to choose and be placed on nursing courses – the application gap rises to 57 times for children’s nursing.
  • Nursing applicants are extremely confident in their choice of career- 99% of 2021 nursing applicants are confident they have made the right decision to study nursing.

UCAS – ‘Next Steps – Who are the Future Nurses?’ -

For more information on Access to HE, please click here. 

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