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Independents' Day

Applicants for medicine down 4% on previous year

Applications to study medicine and dentistry in 2017 have dropped by 4% compared to the previous year, with the BMA warning the high profile pressures in the NHS are making medicine ‘a less desirable career choice’.

UCAS figures for course applications up to 15 January show there were 83,540 applicants this year, a drop of 3,110 applications on 2016, despite applications from 18 year olds and disadvantaged groups rising.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt pledged, at the Conservative Party Conference 2016 that they would make the ‘UK self-sufficient in doctors’ by 2025, and intended to increase med school places by 1,500 in 2018.

Applications to medicine flat-lined last year in the middle of the Government’s dispute with junior doctors, and only rose by 2% in the year before - medical leaders warned of this year’s drop at the earlier November deadline when only 10% of applications were made.

Overall, applications to higher education were down 5% among UK students, and 7% in EU students.

A UCAS report says the decline across the country was driven by a drop in applicants form the EU and older applicants – a 23% decrease in those 25 and older.

The largest single drop was in applications to study nursing, which fell 23% with just 33,810 applicants in 2017 – the first year since the government removed training bursaries.

Harrison Carter, BMA medical students committee co-chair, said: ‘It’s likely that the Government’s handling of the junior doctor contract negotiations, and the continuing financial pressures on the NHS, are deterring many from pursuing medical careers.’

‘At a time when our health service is completely overstretched and facing huge staff shortages, it is vital that the government addresses the underlying issues that are affecting the NHS’ ability to recruit and retain staff.

Mary Curnock Cook, UCAS chief executive said: ‘Despite the overall decrease, it is encouraging that the number of 18 year old applicants remains high, and that application rates for disadvantaged groups continue to rise.’

A Department of Health spokesperson said of the UCAS figures: ‘Student contributions to university costs have changed on three previous occasions, and every time there has been an immediate dip in application rates followed by a steady rise — we are confident nursing courses will follow a similar trend and are certain we will have all the student nurses the NHS needs by September.’

Applicants for Medicine and Dentistry 96270 98910 88550 86650 83540
Percentage change on previous year 11% 14% 2% 0% -4%

Readers' comments (10)

  • medicine tastes awful

    Who is 2 blame !

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  • GPs probably, if you ask the politicians

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  • Quick, fetch more colouring books and crayons.

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  • Are we surprised. The job sucks. And 45k outlay to spend your career being beaten up by GMC CQC DoH patients and the Daily Wail is a crap deal. The big clue is the dwindling numbers of medical offspring deciding to take up the stethoscope. Speaks volumes.

    Kids, run away. Do IT or economics and have a happier life.

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  • Medicine is still a great degree and potentially a great career... just not in the UK.
    Bright young school kids are better off in other fields so it is hardly surprising that they have figured it out for themselves.

    .... and I agree with post above. I don't know a singke doctor who is encouraging children into medicine in the UK.

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  • Just Your Average Joe

    How many actual places are there for training each year - before 1500 JH promised?

    So how many applicants to each place?

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  • Bertie

    With a review of the approach to legal claims away from blame, together with encouragement into medicine across the social scale then more applicants could emerge.

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  • End of the line?

    The longer 5 year course and tuition fees doesn't help either...

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  • The quality of students and their coping strategies need examining .
    I fear for some admitted to a tough environment
    Many are part-time

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