It’s a problem with healthcare courses and healthcare careers

New polling for Universities UK and the Nuffield Trust highlights an uncomfortable truth about studying healthcare

David Kernohan is Deputy Editor of Wonkhe

Young people are attracted to the idea of healthcare careers – the idea that you can use skills and knowledge you have gained to improve the lives of others is attractive enough that 75 per cent of a hefty (5,000+) sample of young people are either considering or have considered a career (and a course) in the industry.

But recent UCAS data suggests that this initial impulse isn’t always followed through to application – though subjects allied to medicine remain most attractive to UK students of all ages the number of students applying has declined every year since 2021.

So, what is putting them off? Universities UK and the Nuffield Trust commissioned some interesting polling.

When prospective students think about their future career,  the key motivators are the availability of employment, the potential for a healthy work-life balance, making a positive difference to society and longer term pay – and this is stable regardless of background.

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However, when you ask the same group what puts them off studying a healthcare course the perceived pressures of the post-graduation job come in behind the conditions they would experience as students- the hours of study and work, the costs of studying (especially among potential applicants with free school meals histories), and the loan repayments afterwards.

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This isn’t cut and dried, however – there are problems with the career too as another question demonstrates. To be clear, this only deals with people under 26 – there may be something else happening with the (declining) mature student pipeline.

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In other words, we need to address the overall terms and conditions of health care roles AND the higher education offer of tuition and support if we are going to be able to produce the healthcare professionals of the future – no mean feat.

One response to “It’s a problem with healthcare courses and healthcare careers

  1. And as the decline is at least as bad in Scotland as the rest of the UK, if free tuition and a £10,000 per annum non-means-tested bursary won’t drive them back, then we are just not going to get there

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