There has been a significant drop in the number of students applying to study nursing degrees in college, according to a recent poll done by the Central Applications Office (CAO).
The poll showed a ten per cent drop in the number of students putting nursing as their first preference on their CAO. Similarly, teaching has decreased by three per cent, while engineering and technology is down by five per cent. However, there had been an increase of four per cent for science degrees.
There was a total of 74,424 applications made by the initial closing date of February 1st which was an increase of 1,300 applications compared with last year.
According to lecturers in DCU’s nursing school, the decrease in the number of students applying for nursing is a result of poor pay and working conditions.
When asked why she thinks students are not choosing to study nursing in college, Dr Siobhan Russell, Mental Health Nursing lecture, said that, “general standards and conditions need to better,” and that, “payment is a big thing.”
Nurses can work up to 39 hours a week and earn an average of €31,315 a year, factors which may influence students’ choice to become nurses.
Professor Anna Keogh of psychology and nursing also said they are, “not paid enough,” and that they, “are too young for that commitment.”
Protests took place last year as the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) lobbied for incremental credits to be restored to nurses who had graduated between the years of 2011 and 2015. Over 7,500 nurses were due to see renewals of up to €1,500 by January of this year.
Last month, nurses threatened strike action that would take place in early March. This was deferred by the INMO pending a ballot of members.
While many believe the poor conditions pushing nurses to strike is causing the drop in CAO points, Mark Kelly, a lecturer in General Nursing, said it was too soon to speculate.
“It is too early to draw any conclusions regarding the reduction in CAO first preference applications for Nursing. We would need to see the final figures and the closing date for the ‘change of mind’ process is not until July 1st,” adding that “our BSc in Nursing programmes are highly sought after with demand remaining consistently strong over the years.”
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