School swamped with applicants
Competition for places in one of the city's major nursing schools has skyrocketed this year, with about 48 applicants vying for each place.
Diana Lee, director of Chinese University's Nethersole School of Nursing, said about 9,500 Form Six students had applied for the 200 places set aside by the school for students sitting the new Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination this year. That ratio of about 48:1 was well up on the 17:1 in 2011.
Another 200 places have been reserved for Form Seven students sitting the last Hong Kong Advanced Level exam - 3,500 of them want to enter the nursing programme.
Tung Wah College announced earlier that it received more than 1,000 applications for its higher diploma nursing programme - about 11 people for each place.
'Nursing is a popular profession nowadays. Graduates are assured of a job as demand for nurses is keen,' Lee said. She also said there had been a lot of publicity about nursing over the past year, and more men were showing interest in the sector. 'One in five students is male now. It was only one in 10 a few years back.'
Despite the higher demand for training, the number of government-funded degree places at the university remains at 200 per year. The 400 on offer is an exception due to a double-cohort transition from three- to four-year university education.
About 2,000 nursing graduates are set to enter the job market this year, up from 1,400 last year. Industry veterans say this could put extra strain on the system because fresh graduates require a lot of further training.
Lee said the government should adopt a two-pronged approach to solve the nursing shortage: increase the number of degree places and retain experienced staff in hospitals.
Fresh graduates needed at least another five years of training before they can become midwives, so the higher numbers would not be a short-term solution for the demand in maternity wards, she added.
Chinese University will introduce a Bachelor of Science in gerontology in the coming academic year to cater to demand for elderly care professionals. It is a two-year full-time programme for students with an associate degree or a higher diploma in health sciences, social sciences or other related areas.
nurses are needed, the Hospital Authority says
-It is the biggest employer of nurses, hiring 20,000 of the 40,000 in HK