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A new “world-leading” online nurse degree programme will launch in England next year, with courses open for applications from this autumn, it has been announced today.

The national body leading the initiative said it was hoped the “blended learning nursing degree” option would open the profession up to a wider group of people and help develop a workforce of “digitally expert” registered nurses.

The idea for the degree was first mentioned in the NHS Long Term Plan at the start of 2019 with further information laid out in the interim NHS People Plan in June of that year.

Health Education England today confirmed that seven universities had signed up to run the blended learning nursing degree, the theoretical component of which will mostly be delivered online.

The first students will start their courses in January 2021, said the government arms’-length body in a statement.