University tackles nursing gender gap with first b...

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University tackles nursing gender gap with first bursary for men

Date: 04/08/2017
News Category:

Coventry University is addressing the growing gender imbalance on nursing and healthcare courses with a new bursary aimed at encouraging men into the field.

The university has announced a fund of £30,000 to help 10 men in subjects where they are under-represented including nursingoccupational therapyphysiotherapymidwifery operating department practice, and dietetics.

Men account for just 10 per cent of the total nursing students placed at UK universities, according to UCAS data with 2,800 men accepted compared with 26,000 women last year.

The award, spread across each year of the degree, is believed to be the first created specifically for men taking nursing and healthcare courses in UK higher education. The funding was won by Coventry following a bid proposal to the National Express Foundation.

The total number of nursing applicants in England fell by 23 per cent this year. The drop has been linked to the removal of NHS bursaries for healthcare students which will affect students on nursing, midwifery and most applied health training for the first time this September.

Rob James, Academic Dean for the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at Coventry University, and chair of its Athena SWAN committee for gender equality said:

“We support all initiatives taking positive action to address unequal gender representation in any subject discipline, and this bursary does so across healthcare training.


While there’s lots being done nationally - and at Coventry - to encourage women into sciences and engineering we hope this new initiative will lead the way in addressing the persistent low proportion of men working in many healthcare professions.”


Colin Harrison is one of just two men in his year on the Learning Disabilities Nursing BSc at Coventry, and said tackling stereotypes is the first step to address the balance and remove the stigma of men in healthcare.

The 32-year-old from Solihull said: 

“Nursing is very much seen as a women’s profession but for many patients, especially male, to be treated by another man or to see men on the wards can be very important.

Lots of people talk about getting women into science and technology, but there is very little awareness of the need for the same balance in healthcare and no big campaigns to encourage men into nursing.

 I think reaction to what I do as a man is very much a generational thing and it’s changing. People usually are shocked but then are really interested in it.

There is also a stigma around learning disabilities and mental health that comes from lack of understanding about what we do. But the more we get people talking about this the more easily we can bring about change.”

Funded by the National Express Foundation Group, the bursary will give 10 men £1,000 in each year of their degree. Applications will open to students on applicable courses and applying from the West Midlands from October 2017.

How many more women than men accept places on full-time undergraduate nursing degree courses at UK universities?

2016   23,280 more women than men

2015   22,285

2014   22,055

2013   20,230

2012   19,475

Source: UCAS End of Cycle Data Resources

For further press information please contact Hannah Smith, press officer at Coventry University, on 024 77658352 or email