Nursing and midwifery student numbers to increase

Mental health focus to support pandemic recovery.

The number of student nurses, midwives, and paramedics entering Scottish Government funded degree programmes will increase by 5.8% in 2021/22 – the ninth successive increase in a row.

Overall this year’s increase will mean a recommended intake of 4,449 nursing and midwifery students for the upcoming academic year, up 243 places from 4,206 in 2020/21.

In recognition of the mental health and wellbeing impacts from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, mental health nursing sees the largest percentage increase this year to a recommended intake of 740 places, up 13% from the previous year, and 76% over the course of this Parliament.

Further increases in student intakes to support sustainable workforce numbers also include midwifery, which will increase to 287 places, up 6.3% from 2020/21, as well as paramedic science, which will increase to 300 places, up 7% from last year.

Tuition is free for Scottish-domiciled nursing and midwifery students, and these students are supported by a bursary of £10,000 per annum – the highest value nursing bursary anywhere in the UK.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:

“I am pleased to report that student intake numbers in nursery, midwifery, and paramedic science will continue to increase this year. Staffing in our NHS remains at a record high level following eight consecutive years of growth, but as we remobilise NHS services, we must keep looking to the future and plan ahead for the next generation of Scotland's healthcare workforce.

“This includes a significant expansion in the mental health nursing intake, recognising the additional support that will be required to address the mental health and wellbeing impacts from coronavirus (COVID-19) across Scotland.

“The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the integral role of nurses, midwives and paramedics but it is just another example of the essential care they provide for Scotland’s population on a daily basis.

“I am deeply grateful to them for all the work they do, and I commend everyone who is studying for a career in these essential roles, or applying to, in these challenging times.”


Intake numbers are based on modelling that talks account of a number of factors, including future demand. They are determined following discussions with a stakeholder reference group which includes representatives from NHS workforce planners, social care, universities and professional bodies and trade unions including RCM, RCN, and Unison.

Staffing increases over the course of the fifth Scottish Parliament
• Mental health nursing - 76%
• Adult nursing - 41%
• Children’s and young people’s nursing - 29%
• Learning disability nursing - 51%
• Total for all nursing - 45%
• Midwifery - 66%


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