Degree courses training our next generation of health and social care professionals are continuing to accept applications, and new @UCAS insight shows students from all walks of life will receive a warm welcome.

Nursing and social work degrees have the most diverse pool of applicants compared to other major undergraduate subject areas.

Health and social care courses are among the subjects attracting the highest proportion of applications and acceptances from black applicants, mature students, and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Many courses still have vacancies for the next academic year, and are ready to welcome qualified applicants from all backgrounds – preparing them for rewarding future careers.

New analysis from UCAS shows:

  • In 2019, social work had the highest proportion of applicants from the black ethnic group (21%) of any subject, followed by nursing (20%).
  • Social work and nursing are also among the subjects with the highest proportion of acceptances from the black ethnic group, with 23% and 19% respectively.
  • For all subjects allied to medicine, 16% of acceptances are from students from the black ethnic group (the highest proportion for any wider subject group), followed by social studies courses, with 13%.
  • 42% of students accepted onto social work courses are aged over 30, the highest proportion of any subject. Nursing courses are second, with 29% of acceptances from students in this age group.
  • Social work is the only subject (with more than 150 applicants) that has more students from disadvantaged backgrounds applying (1,055 applicants), than from the most advantaged backgrounds (1,000 applicants). This a ratio of just 0.94 applicants from advantaged backgrounds for each disadvantaged applicant – the lowest ratio of all subjects.
  • Nursing follows with a ratio of 1.12, with 2,100 applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds, alongside 2,350 from the most advantaged backgrounds. Both subjects have similar patterns of accepting students from a wide range of backgrounds.
  • While male applicants remain in the minority, the number of men applying for nursing grew by 8.5% to 5,370, with the number of acceptances also growing (by 7.1% to 2,700).

There are still vacancies on health and social care courses across the UK for autumn starts. Around 40% of adult nursing and social work courses are still accepting applications in the 2020 cycle to start in September or October, with some universities having up to 50 places available. Courses in mental health, child, and learning disability nursing are also among the healthcare subjects with vacancies. With the Government recently announcing 5,000 additional places  for nursing, midwifery, and allied health courses, these numbers are likely to increase.

To support anyone thinking of applying, UCAS is hosting a Facebook Live Q&A event  on Thursday 25 June at 16:00 (UK time) with Mark Radford, Chief Nurse for Health Education England.

In 2019, 15% of nursing applications were made between the 15 January and 30 June deadlines, compared to 12% of applications overall. UCAS analysis has previously shown  that mature applicants are more likely to apply in the summer months than those leaving school, and application rates for the mature population reflect the job market buoyancy, which is likely to be impacted in the near future with the economy contracting in April .

Matt Hancock, Health and Social Care Secretary, said: ‘This coronavirus pandemic has reinforced the fact that nursing is a life-changing career, and has shown just how cherished our health and care frontline workers are.

‘It is excellent to see that these courses attract people from all backgrounds, and I urge anyone considering a rewarding career in nursing to apply and get started this year.’

Clare Marchant, UCAS’ Chief Executive, said: ‘The life-changing work of health and social care professionals has never been more celebrated. Inspirational stories of nurses and social workers tirelessly caring for us and helping keep us safe during the pandemic have rightly meant that the public have voiced their support more than ever during lockdown.

‘The stars are now aligned for more people to embark on one of the most rewarding careers, and our new insights show how welcoming the health and social care sector is to people of all walks of life. The chance to start studying at a time when our universities are making huge contributions to fighting coronavirus is an exciting prospect for any caring, compassionate, and ambitious individual.’

Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for NHS England, said: ‘The whole country is indebted to the incredible work of the NHS’ committed and diverse frontline workers, and if you have been inspired by their effort, there are nursing degree vacancies for the next academic year, so please come forward and begin your career in the NHS.’

Professor Mark Radford, Chief Nurse, Health Education England, said: ‘I would encourage anyone to think about joining the profession I am so proud to be part of. The expertise and flexibility of our nurses whilst working during the pandemic has shown you can deliver safe, quality, compassionate care to patients even when under unprecedented pressure. They are a credit to our profession, and I would say don’t delay, don’t wait until Clearing, apply today to train to become a nurse to make a difference to the lives of individuals, families, and communities across the country.’

Mark Harvey and Fran Leddra, Chief Social Workers for Adults [England], said:We are so pleased to see that social work is the most diverse undergraduate course in terms of race, background, and age. Equality and inclusion are core values of social work and integral to its purpose to uphold human rights and promote social justice. As chief social workers, we are committed to ensuring our workforce is reflective of the people we serve and the communities they live in.

‘Now more than ever, we welcome you to join us in a rewarding career in social work that can support people to live fulfilling lives and create lasting change in our communities and society.’

In total, a record 30,390 students were accepted onto nursing courses in 2019. As of the 15 January deadline in the 2020 cycle, applicant numbers were up 6% to 45,430.

Statistics refer to courses across the UK. ‘Nursing’ refers to courses allocated to line B7 in JACS subject classification , ‘social work’ refers to courses allocated L5, and ‘subjects allied to medicine’ refers to all courses in Group B (a wider subject group).

Application statistics are based on the 2019 UCAS undergraduate application cycle. When analysing applicants by age, detailed subject groups with more than 250 applicants from all domiciles were considered. When analysing applicants’ ethnic groups, UK applicants were considered. When analysing applicants by measure of advantage and disadvantage, detailed subject groups with more than 150 UK 18 year old applicants were considered. The measure of advantage/disadvantage used is POLAR4 .  

Social work has the lowest POLAR4 acceptance ratio (0.69) of any detailed subject group with more than 100 UK 18 year old acceptances. Nursing has a POLAR4 ratio of 1.13, the sixth lowest.

In 2019, 12% (76,990) of all applicants applied by the 15 October deadline, 76% (484,270) by the 15 January deadline, and 12% (76,690) by the 30 June deadline. For nursing applicants specifically, 5% (2,670) by 15 October, 80% (40,960) by 15 January, and 15% (7,890) by 30 June.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 6 minutes ago

Improving Student Mental Health at @NCG_Official. A really interesting article by Liz Bromley. This is a part of t…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page