‘We warned you’ says RCM on shortfall in applications for midwifery degrees

By RCM on 19 December 2016 Student midwives Bursaries and Scholarships Midwives Nurses Good Health Midwife Shortage Midwifery and nursing degree RCM

Applications for midwifery, nursing degrees and other allied health university courses have fallen by over twenty percent in England.

The reported* shortfall in applications comes after the Government last year year announced plans to scrap NHS bursary in favour of loans for student midwives and nurses.

Some higher educational institutions have reported receiving almost fifty percent less applications compared with this time last year and shortfalls in applications were worse in London and the southeast, among mature candidates.

The research conducted by the higher educational body; Universities UK (UUK) and the report in the The Times this weekend  revealed that this years drop in applications for midwifery and nursing degrees is ‘twice that of other courses’.

Commenting Jon Skewes Director for Policy, Employment Relations and Communications at the Royal College of Midwives says; “The RCM has spent the past twelve months warning the Government of the potential impact removing the student bursary would have on application numbers. Sadly we can now see the effect we warned of and it is appalling that some higher education institutes in England are reporting receiving fifty percent less applications for midwifery and nursing degrees than this time last year.”

“The Government claimed that the removal of the bursary would in create more than 10,000 new training places for midwives, nurses and other allied health students. The RCM along with other trade unions warned that this was a wreck less decision that would affect the midwifery shortage further and unfortunately the research from UUK now confirms our worst fears.

Many potentially great future midwives have no doubt been deterred due to the financial costs now involved in becoming a midwife or a nurse. We already know that many people who train to become midwives are those who already have a first degree andwomen with children and other financial commitments already make up a large proportion of our current midwifery student base.”

“Since the plans where announced in November 2015 the RCM conducted a survey of student midwife members which revealed that a third (32 per cent) are already graduates when they start to train as a midwife. Of those, three-quarters (73 per cent) borrowed when they studied for that degree.

To burden young women and men with such large amounts of debt that they will struggle to repay with a modest NHS salary is unjust and frankly just wrong. Maternity services in the UK are already struggling due to a shortage of 3,500 midwives in England alone, this shortage is also likely to deepen if EU citizens currently working in the NHS lose their working rights post Brexit and now the damage of the Government decision to remove the student bursary is evident. The RCM is deeply concerned that this will further affect the staffing shortage not only in our maternity services, but right across the NHS.”


*The Times ‘Nursing Degree applications fall by a fifth’



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Notes to editors

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/.