There have been fewer applications to health and social care courses for entry in 2017/18, according to data from the University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), which shows a 5% decline across all subjects.
The reduction in application numbers for 2017/18 is higher across healthcare courses where applicants from England making at least one choice for nursing and midwifery have fallen by 23%.
Professor Dame Jessica Corner, chair of the Council of Deans of Health, said: “It is to be expected that there would be fewer applications in the first year following the changes to the funding system (the withdrawing of NHS bursaries), but we would expect this to pick up in future years.
"This also comes in the context of a reduction in applications to higher education across all subjects and the introduction of alternative routes into health careers such as the nursing associate and registered nurse apprenticeship programmes.
“Universities report receiving a high number of good quality applications for most courses and they will continue to recruit through to the summer. Where courses have historically had a large number of applicants, fewer applicants might well not affect eventual student numbers”.
Charliotte Beardmore, the SCoR's director of professional policy said, "The drop in applications is a concern and we are monitoring this for radiography.
"It is a particular worry for therapeutic radiography because of the small training numbers and recent intelligence from education providers that indicated a reduction in applications compared with the same time last year," she continued.
"We will be using data to inform key stakeholders about the risk to both imaging and radiotherapy services if places are unfilled and the need for effective marketing of the radiography profession to encourage future applicants."
Professor Steve West, chair of Universities UK’s Health Education and Research Policy Network, commented, “With the changes to the funding system, most universities anticipated a dip in applications before the UCAS deadline. We will continue to work hard through the Spring and Summer to make sure that we attract high quality applicants from the widest range of backgrounds.
“At the same time, though no longer funding these degrees, government must step forward to continue to endorse and promote the degree route into these professions.
“These courses lead into critically important roles in our future health and care services. They also provide an amazing range of professional careers, qualifications that are recognised all over the world and great opportunities for personal fulfilment.”
Click here for Universities UK response to the data.