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Andrew Brown

Call for placement boost for more nurses

Universities Australia says the number of nurses graduating needs to double to meet future demand. (Diego Fedele/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

Universities have called for clinical places for those studying health-related degrees to be expanded amid a looming workforce shortfall in the sector.

Ahead of the government's jobs and skills summit on Thursday, Universities Australia said the number of graduating nurses will need to double in order to meet up with future demand.

The peak body's chief executive Catriona Jackson said the number of clinical placements would need to expand significantly in order for more students to be able to graduate,

"While we are facing a skills shortage right now, Australia will also need over 300,000 additional health workers by 2026," Ms Jackson said.

"Roughly 16,000 nurses graduate each year, which falls well short of the number required to meet the projected shortfall. We estimate that this number will need to double."

It's expected there would be a shortfall of 85,000 nurses by 2025, according to modelling.

The peak body has also called for more clinical placements to be opened up in aged and primary care as well as disability care, in order for health students to gain experience where it is most needed.

Universities Australia will be among the 131 representatives at the two-day summit in Canberra, which aims to solve skills shortages in critical industries as well as grow wages and productivity.

Ms Jackson said universities were willing to work closely with health services to expand training capacity to boost the workforce.

"We have to work in partnership with government and health service providers to expand the number of clinical places available to students in ways that work for services, clients and students, to ensure our health workforce can keep up with demand," she said.

"Without these workers, Australians wouldn't receive the services and care they need to be safe and healthy. That's why we need to prepare our workforce today for the future."

The Victorian government announced earlier this week that more than 10,000 nurses and midwives would have their university degrees paid off to boost staffing across the health system.

The $270 million initiative would see all new domestic students enrolling in nursing or midwifery courses over the next two years receive a $16,500 scholarship to cover course costs.

Universities Australia has said higher education would be critical to helping to address looming skills shortages.

It's expected more than half of the almost one million jobs created over the next five years will require a university degree.

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