The nursing school at UNC-Chapel Hill is cutting enrollment 25 percent to save money.
That means the school will admit 152 students next year, down from 208.
The enrollment reduction starts with students admitted for the summer semester that starts in May.
The move is a reaction to ongoing budget pressures, including a 5 percent permanent cut instituted by the university in January and additional cuts expected to reach as high as 15 percent.
The move is a rare, tangible example of how the ongoing budget pressures are restricting access to public higher education in North Carolina. UNC system campuses generally try not to restrict access to their programs.
“We are committed to offering high-quality, rigorous and safe programs for entry into nursing practice at the baccalaureate and advanced practice levels,” said School of Nursing Dean Kristen M. Swanson. “The budget challenges have left us little alternative but to reduce the number of students we enroll.”
The enrollment reductions must be implemented now because postponing them until January 2012 would not allow adequate savings to meet budget requirements, according to a news release. The school continues to explore additional means to absorb the anticipated budget cuts.
School of Nursing students have two options for preparation to enter into practice as a registered nurse (RN): the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) six-semester program or the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) four-semester program for applicants with a baccalaureate or higher degree in another field of study. Together, the BSN and ABSN programs have been graduating approximately 200 new nurses each year.
The projected need for nurses continues to grow because of health-care reform, the health-care needs of the aging Baby Boomer generation and an aging nursing workforce.
“Given the nursing shortage it is truly unfortunate to find ourselves reducing enrollments to the levels we realized 10 years ago,” Swanson said. “However, we cannot sacrifice the quality or safety of nursing education, so our difficult choice was to reduce the number of students.”