Nursing and midwifery student intake

New trainee numbers double in last decade.


Student nurses and midwives entering Scottish Government funded degree programmes will increase by 8.7% in 2022-23, to a total recommended intake of 4837 students.

This will be the 10th successive increase in recommended student numbers, with the intake doubling over the last decade.

To address the mental health and wellbeing impacts from the pandemic, mental health nursing will increase to a recommended intake of 888 places, up 20% from the previous year, and 146.7% over the course of the last 10 student intakes.

A further 335 students will begin a Paramedic Science degree, bringing the total number of paramedic students to 996, the third successive increase in recommended intake targets since the programme began in 2020.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said:

“Growing our workforce is crucial and that’s why we have steadily increased places on undergraduate nursing and midwifery courses over 10 consecutive years – doubling the number of new intake students in the last decade.

“We are also determined to combat the acute challenges the ambulance service will face in the coming years and by increasing places on our paramedic science programme we underline our commitment to do just that.

“The continued increase in education places comes as part of our wider efforts to invest in the recovery and future sustainability of our NHS. Although our workforce has grown by over 11,500 whole time equivalent staff since the beginning of the pandemic, we know that further work is needed to support the recovery and renewal of our health service.”

Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions at NHS Education for Scotland Karen Wilson said:

“NHS Education for Scotland welcomes this increase and looks forward to working with the universities to deliver the best experience possible in the education and training of student nurses, midwives and paramedics.”

Chair of the Scottish Executive Nurse Directors Ann Gow said:

“We are delighted to see an increase in undergraduate student numbers and in particular welcome the rise in mental health students given the impact that the pandemic has had on the public’s mental health. We look forward to welcoming the new students into our workforce in future years and wish them well in their careers.”

The package of support for student nurses, midwives and paramedics is currently at its highest level. The Scottish Government increased the non-means tested, non-repayable nursing and midwifery student bursary to £10,000 in 2020 and extended the provision to student paramedics in 2021. Free tuition is also provided for eligible undergraduate students in addition to funding for placement expenses, uniforms, and disclosure and health checks.


Each year sees a robust nursing, midwifery and paramedic student intake planning process to determine the target number of students to which Scottish universities should recruit to meet future workforce demands. The process involves significant input from the health and education sectors, and uses detailed modelling of current and projected staff and student numbers, including workforce supply and demand for the next 3-5 years, as well as anticipated key service drivers.

Paramedic Science is a new degree, established in 2020. Ministers recommend the numbers of places for pre-registration paramedic education and training, taking into account the advice of officials, the Council of Deans of Health (CoDH), Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS), and health boards via NHS Education Scotland (NES).

Staffing increases between the first (2012) and the 10th (2022) successive increase in nursing and midwifery intake by profession and field*:
• Mental health nursing – 146.7%
• Adult nursing – 88.4%
• Children’s and young people’s nursing – 58.6%
• Learning disability nursing – 84.4%
• Total for all nursing – 94.7%
• Midwifery - 201%

*Prior to 2014, a number of universities offering honours degrees in nursing were not included in the target numbers


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