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Friday, March 22, 2019, Issue 131

Declining numbers of mature students put recruitment at risk

Mature students

New research has outlined the challenges surrounding recruiting mature students to allied health profession courses.

The study explores the fall in applications, noting that the removal of bursaries as one of the underlying issues. Therapeutic radiography is one of the professions being seriously affected by declining numbers of applications, putting higher education courses at risk.

Commissioned by the Office for Students, the study shows that low public awareness and personal debt-aversion as key problems.

Recommendations include:

  • Better explanations for potential mature students about funding arrangements, including how tuition fee loan repayments work and that extra help is available for childcare, the costs of travelling to placements, and hardship
  • More national campaigns, followed through by local partners, to promote small and specialist healthcare disciplines
  • Stronger collaboration between government, arm’s length bodies and regulators to remove some of the barriers which hamper the development of healthcare apprenticeships
  • More innovative and flexible approaches to delivering healthcare higher education, such as part-time access courses and distance learning, to cater for the differing needs of mature students.
  • The research found from an AHP perspective, “There was believed to be significant recruitment potential in ‘Return to Practice’, though there was not yet an agreed, internal process to deal with any allied health professional who enquired about this.”

Download the research study.

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