Coventry University to deliver new online degree to encourage more people into nursing

Monday 13 July 2020

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Coventry University has been chosen by Health Education England (HEE) to introduce a new nursing degree designed to allow more people to join the profession.

The university is one of seven selected by HEE - the national leadership organisation for education, training and workforce development for the NHS - to deliver the new Blended Learning Nursing Degree, which will start in January 2021.

The new degree blends flexible, fully interactive digital learning with practical placements in clinical settings and makes it easier for student nurses to balance their studies with family or carer roles and part-time work.

Students will learn the theoretical component of the course mainly online, allowing them to learn on their own terms. This new delivery mode and the heavy inclusion of innovative digital technology will appeal to a wider pool of prospective students, including those who may previously have had barriers to a nursing career, thereby going some way towards addressing the nursing shortage crisis.

According to the Royal College of Nursing, there are currently 40,000 nursing vacancies in health and care settings in England. Coventry University estimates that it will train and support 2,700 students through to graduation and nurse registration over the five-year contract.

The university will offer multiple entry points throughout the academic year to ensure maximum flexibility and accessibility. Up to 90 per cent of the theory element of the course will be delivered via the FutureLearn platform, and students will also be able to access Aula, our new Student Engagement Platform. The remaining theory will be taught in residential or weekend blocks throughout the year to accommodate the students’ work and family commitments.

Coventry University will enrol students from five of HEE’s seven regions - the Midlands, North East and Yorkshire, London, Kent, and East of England, and run the degree from its Coventry campus and CU Scarborough and CU London campuses. With support from the HEE regional teams, the university will be reaching out to health providers in the East of England and Kent in order to develop new practice placement partnerships.

In addition to the undergraduate blended route to nursing, Coventry University is also providing a postgraduate route to adult nurse registration. This enables career changers with relevant degrees, transferable skills, and values congruent to health careers, to become a registered nurse in two years.

The university has also committed to sponsoring three PhD students to evaluate the impact of this new route to nurse registration on a national scale, working collaboratively with the other awarded universities.

We are delighted to be awarded HEE funding to develop these brand new routes to adult nurse registration. We have invested heavily in infrastructure, notably, world class health and science simulation facilities and the introduction of Vodaphone 5G. These courses represent an important addition to our ever-growing portfolio of online courses, which are designed with the student at the centre, offering maximum flexibility and ensuring widening participation. Our practice education partners, who recognise the need to address the shortage of nurses and the need to grow digital capabilities within the workforce, are fully on board. I am happy to add that we are already receiving interest from potential students.

Professor Lisa Bayliss-Pratt, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Health and Life Sciences, Coventry University

This is a critical and ambitious programme of work, to support the introduction of blended learning degrees in healthcare. It shows the way to the future of educating and training our workforce, with the use of existing and emerging learning technologies. It signifies how HEE is working in partnership with HEIs, to establish a radical shift in nurse education in England. We were impressed by the innovation that our chosen universities had put into their plans, especially around looking for new student markets, embracing the widening participation agenda and their use of innovative technologies. This approach has been accelerated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it will really help to enable wider access to nursing degrees for people who may previously have had barriers to a nursing career.

Patrick Mitchell, Director of Innovation and Transformation for Health Education England

Applications can be made from the autumn this year, and prospective students can look out for further information closer to the time on the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health webpage.