DEMAND for nursing qualifications through TAFE SA has surged by almost 20 per cent, latest applications data shows.
Figures released exclusively to The Advertiser by the South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre show an 18 per cent jump in applications to study enrolled nursing, from 1986 students in 2008 to 2350 this year.
The Australian Nursing Federation said interest in nursing had been rising over the past few years but there still were not enough places in the vocational education or university sectors to meet demand.
Overall, TAFE attracted almost 900 fewer applicants this year but fields such as nursing, graphic design and dentistry experienced booms in popularity. The figures come on the eve of the publication of first-round TAFE offers in The Advertiser tomorrow.
For those who miss out, a second and final round of offers will be published on February 6.
Australian Nursing Federation (SA) education services manager Rob Bonner said the rise in applications was positive but he called for more places, particularly at universities where more advanced registered nursing qualifications are offered.
“For the last several years the number of applicants has greatly outnumbered the number of places that are available,” he said.
“On current trends we will have a shortage of several thousand registered nurses in South Australia by 2020 unless we increase significantly the number of university places.”
He said TAFE produced about 600 enrolled nursing graduates a year compared to about 250 five years ago.
Overall, 12,134 people applied to TAFE this year, down from 13,013 last year.
Enrolled nursing topped the list, followed by Business, Clerical and Office Administration (2069 applicants) and Childrens Services (1925 applicants) which was the most popular field last year but sustained a 16 per cent drop in applications.
Other popular subjects this year included Graphic Design (613 applicants, up 19 per cent) and Dental and Paradental (597, up 20 per cent).
Enrolled nurse Sue Pascoe, 40, graduated from a Certificate IV in health at TAFE in 2003 and now works at Flinders Medical Centre.
She applied to study a further advanced diploma in enrolled nursing this year, saying TAFE was more affordable and accessible than university.
“I think it is a good entry point for people (to) then step up to registered nursing if they want to,” she said.
January 08, 2009