Applications by students in England for nursing and midwifery courses at British universities have fallen dramatically after the government’s decision to end NHS bursaries.

In July 2016, the government confirmed this decision to replace NHS bursaries for nursing and health professional students in England with the traditional student loan system.

The changes will only apply to nursing students studying in England who begin their course from August 2017.

Students in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will still have access to the bursary with students in England having to pay tuition fees, which could cost up to £9,250 a year.

Numbers fell by 9,990 to 33,810 in 12 months nationwide, according to figures released by the university admissions service UCAS.

Sheffield Hallam University, one of the main training centres for nurses, released figures showing applications have fallen by 24 per cent after the bursaries were replaced with loans.

Sheffield Hallam’s Training Centre For Nurses

The government has defended the decision to stop the bursary by stating that more people than ever before are deciding to study at university.

Ryan Marsden, who is a first-year Mental Health Nursing student at Sheffield Hallam said “I do feel bad for the nurses in the coming years who will have to pay.

“It’s unfortunate as there’s such a shortage of nurses and midwives at the minute and applicant numbers are at a low anyway so it’s only going to get lower.

“I think the NHS in one way are shooting themselves in the foot in the long-term because we’re desperate for nurses and midwives and that is one of the reasons why the NHS is in such a bad state at the moment.

“The decision could also be seen as a bit of a quick fix because over the years you’re going to save so much money that could be put into getting the NHS out of this crisis”

There could however be an upside for students who are planning on studying a health-based course, with many universities now likely to be competing to attract students in the future.