The number of nurses and health care professionals studying with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) should be a very healthy one; the RCN has over 390,000 members to communicate directly with, the programmes are open to non-members, the number of nurses in UK is increasing, the courses are designed around busy working professionals, and there is very little direct competition. However, the recruitment figures prior to 2005 showed a different picture, and it was not a healthy one.
Large numbers of people were enquiring about the courses and being sent a prospectus but conversion of enquirer to applicant was poor. In 2003, enrolment was 20% below target and the situation in 2004 was slightly worse with the shortfall being 23%. Given the increasing nursing workforce, the dropping numbers needed to be addressed, the recruitment was not cost effective or helping the RCN meet it strategic aims.