‘Applications to midwifery courses down by over one third - having fallen steadily every year since 2013' says RCM

By RCM on 05 April 2018 RCM Student midwives Midwives Bursaries and Scholarships

There has been a 35 percent (35%) drop in the number of applicants to midwifery courses since 2013, that’s according to the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) who have analysed the latest UCAS data on applications to midwifery courses in England.

The number of students applying to midwifery courses in England has fallen steadily every year since 2013 which has resulted in a total of 35 percent fewer applicants for midwifery courses than there were in 2013.

The biggest drop in the number midwifery applicants since 2013 has come from those aged 21 or over. In 2013, over 12,000 people aged over 21 applied for a midwifery course in England.  By 2017 that figures was only 6,700, a decrease of 45 percent (45%)

Commenting, Gabrielle Bourke Professional Policy Advisor at The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) said; “We are not entirely surprised by these figures as the RCM has previously raised concerns about how less attractive midwifery as a profession was becoming particularly since the midwifery bursary was abolished and tuition fees were introduced in August 2017.

“This coupled with already younger midwives leaving the profession due to workforce pressures such as understaffing causing burnout in addition to seven years of NHS pay restraint have certainly been factors that have deterred students from applying for midwifery courses in England.

“It’s disappointing to see the drop in applications from those aged 21 and older. We know that many of those who have previously chosen careers in midwifery have been older students, often women with children inspired by the care they received while pregnant choosing to become midwife. Also, currently a large proportion of the midwifery student  base hold other degrees or educational qualifications relevant to healthcare and these are the type of people the NHS so badly needs and we should be doing everything we can to attract and retain the brightest and best students to midwifery.

“The RCM welcomes the recent announcement by the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt to increase the number of NHS midwives by training more than 3000 midwives over the next four years and we look forward to working with and supporting the Government to make this announcement of more midwives working in England a reality. At present in England we remain 3,500 midwives short of what is needed to deliver safe, high quality care to women and their families, but for now we need urgent measures to ensure that we will have enough students willing to become midwives so this vision can be achieved.”


Related RCM media releases:

Government have created perfect storm says RCM on axing of student bursaries 

Fail’ says RCM on Government plans to boost student midwifery numbers

Government’s more midwives plans welcomed but needs investment and time to make work says RCM


To contact the RCM’s Media Relations team call 020 7312 3456 or email [email protected].



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/.