Nursing and social work degrees have most diverse pool of applicants – UCAS

In 2019, social work had the highest proportion of black applicants of any subject

UCAS has revealed that nursing and social work degrees have the most diverse pool of applicants compared to other major undergraduate subjects.

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

UCAS’ analysis shows that in 2019, social work had the highest proportion of applicants from the black ethnic group (21%) of any subject, followed by nursing (20%). Both social work and nursing were also among the subjects with the highest proportion of acceptances from the black ethnic group, with 23% and 19% respectively.

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). Nursing follows with 2,100 applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds, alongside 2,350 from the most advantaged backgrounds.

Our new insights show how welcoming the health and social care sector is to people of all walks of life – Clare Marchant, UCAS’ chief executive

The government recently announced 5,000 additional places for nursing, midwifery and allied health courses, to protect the higher education sector from the impact of coronavirus.

Many courses still have vacancies for the next academic year, including health and social care, and mental health, child and learning disability nursing.

“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,” said Clare Marchant, UCAS’ chief executive.

She continued: “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.”

Matt Hancock, health and social care secretary, added: “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.”

Other findings from UCAS

  • 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.
  • 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).

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