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Latest figures show welcome rise in university acceptances to study for the allied health professions

13 January 2021

University acceptances to study for the allied health professions (AHPs) in England rose by an encouraging 17.5 per cent last year compared with 2019, latest figures reveal.

Acceptances rose in all regions, and for all the AHP subjects except one, where the numbers remained static.

It follows a concerted campaign by Health Education England involving a number of initiatives to drive recruitment to the AHP professions. These include raising the profile of the AHPs in the armed forces, in association with Step into Health, and teaming up with the online WoW (World of Work) Show to inspire young people about their future careers.

The AHPs comprise 14 distinct occupations including art therapists, dietitians, dramatherapists, music therapists, occupational therapists, operating department practitioners, orthoptists, osteopaths, paramedics, physiotherapists, podiatrists, prosthetists and orthotists, diagnostic and therapeutic radiographers, and speech and language therapists.

AHPs play a crucial role in helping patients live life as fully as possible. They work as part of a central team in emergency response and diagnosis, and in mental and physical rehabilitation. Annual payments are available to support selected AHP courses for undergraduates and graduates.

During 2020, there was a 48 per cent increase in traffic to information about the AHP professions on the NHS Health Careers website. This included a 100 per cent increase in interest in careers in diagnostic radiography, a 77 per cent increase in becoming a therapeutic radiographer and a 68 per cent increase in becoming a dietitian.

Information about careers as an AHP can be found on the NHS Health Careers website here:-  https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/we-are-the-nhs/allied-health-professionals

Beverley Harden, Allied Health Professions Lead, Health Education England, said: “It is extremely encouraging to see numbers rising for these vital and rewarding professions, which play an absolutely crucial part within the NHS.

“With such a wide variety of roles available, there really is something for everyone who wants to work as part of a team at the heart of the NHS, doing truly fulfilling work and making a real difference to the daily lives of patients.”

The latest figures from the University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) show that applicants for the AHPs increased across all age groups in 2020 compared with 2019, particularly among the younger age groups and those aged 40 and over.

The percentage of applicants who were re-appliers increased slightly last year to 13.4 per cent.

Acceptances from clearing routes were at their highest since 2011, but most acceptances to AHP courses still came through main scheme routes.

Podiatry yields the highest number of acceptances from it applicants (86%).