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Campaign launched in London to encourage college leavers to choose nursing

A network of higher education institutions in London has kicked off a campaign aimed at encouraging young people to pursue nursing degrees.

The #StudyNursingLondon initiative was launched earlier this week by London Higher, a membership organisation for universities and higher education colleges across the capital.

“Nursing can be a rewarding profession and London universities offer over 115 nursing courses”

Katherine Curtis

London Higher said the campaign would be focused on “student voice”, using testimonial videos from students on a range of nursing courses at a variety of the capital’s higher education institutions.

It highlighted that the first student testimonials could be viewed on its YouTube channel or across social media under the #StudyNursingLondon hashtag, as well as a ‘hero’ video for the campaign.

Videos feature Brunel University London, Kingston University London, London South Bank University, Middlesex University London, the University of Greenwich and the University of East London.

Those behind the campaign are also encouraging London universities who deliver nursing to support the initiative by creating their own content focusing on the benefits of nursing degrees.

London Higher’s healthcare education group, which developed #StudyNursingLondon, said it hoped the testimonials would highlight the positive reasons for choosing certain types of nursing course.

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It added that many of the videos also touched upon the value placed on doing work that benefits society, the flexibility of the profession, the appeal of the practical aspects and the skills it develops.

In particular, the initiative would seek to “inspire and empower young people up and down the UK to embark on rewarding careers in nursing in the capital city”, said the group.

In contrast, London Higher noted that 90% of the current student nurse population in the capital were currently classified as mature – with almost 60% over the age of 30.

The new campaign promotes London as a vibrant city offering great culture, nightlife and green space, and nursing as a cornerstone of the healthcare system, playing a vital role in helping communities.

In addition, those behind the campaign noted that London has just been named Best Student City for the fifth year running by the international university rankings body QS.

NHS London noted, however, that the capital had the most acute nurse shortage in the country, with 10,627 vacancies in March 2023 – an 11% increase compared to last year.

The launch also comes as figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) show the number of people accepted onto undergraduate nursing courses in the UK has fallen by 10%.

For the 2023 academic year, which started in September, 26,330 nursing student applicants were accepted onto their courses in what is the lowest successful admissions for the degree since 2019.

One of the key drivers cited for the campaign is the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, published in June, setting an ambitious target to increase adult nursing trainee numbers by 92% by 2030.

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This would take the total number of places to nearly 38,000 by 2031-32 and forms part of a wider target to increase the number of nursing and midwifery training places to around 58,000 by 2031-32.

Professor Katherine Curtis, chair of the health education group and dean of the Faculty of Health, Science, Social Care and Education at Kingston University, said: “We are pleased to be rolling out #StudyNursingLondon in response to the needs of the NHS workforce plan.

“Nursing can be a rewarding profession and London universities offer over 115 nursing courses, so whatever type of nursing someone may be interested in, we will have it here in the capital,” she said.

London Higher chief executive Diana Beech said the campaign is aimed at breaking the “negative perceptions” which may have contributed to the decline in successful nursing applicants, and added: “[Lower admissions] is something we’ve always discussed as an organisation, but the trigger was the NHS Long Term Workforce plan, with its aim to increase adult nursing places by almost double.

“We were already conscious of the applications going down, but the alarm bells started ringing with the UCAS data. This is just phase one focusing on school leavers; phase two will focus on more mature students.”

Jane Clegg, regional chief nurse for London at NHS England said: “Choosing to study and work in London as a nurse or midwife is a smart choice.”

She said students would have access to an “amazing rage of universities and health and social care in a global city”, and London’s nurses and midwives were fully signed up to #StudyNursingLondon.

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This initial phase of the #StudyNursingLondon campaign is expected to run until UCAS applications close at the end of January, to ensure it reaches young people across the city, London Higher.

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