Sheffield Hallam University is one of only six higher education institutions to receive funding for a project that seeks to increase the number of students studying on specialist healthcare courses.

The Office for Students (OfS) has allocated a proportion of a £225,000 grant to the University to carry out an innovative project that seeks to understand and address the challenges and barriers which may inadvertently restrict male applicants from applying to study for a career in therapeutic radiography.

Therapeutic radiographers specialise in the planning and administration of radiotherapy treatment for patients with cancer. This new project will engage with underrepresented male applicants, identifying the factors that affect their recruitment and consideration of a career in radiotherapy as well as improve on recruitment resources and effective strategies in response to the national decline in applications.

Helen Best, deputy dean of Sheffield Hallam’s Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, said: “This project will enable us to ensure more students from diverse backgrounds choose to study and complete courses like therapeutic radiography, providing England with the next generation of healthcare professionals whilst at the same time redressing the gender imbalance.  We’re proud to be able to continue our commitment to shaping the future NHS workforce.”

Jo McNamara, admission lead for therapeutic radiography at Sheffield Hallam, said: “Increasing male recruitment would have a really positive impact on the workforce as it would represent the demographic of patients receiving radiotherapy for the treatment of cancer.

“We train around 32% of England’s therapeutic radiographers and less than 15% of the cohort is male. This project will really help to provide an insight into the drivers for male recruitment within healthcare courses and although a targeted approach is aimed at one specific profession, it is anticipated that this project will have an overall positive outcome on increased applications for the profession locally and nationally.”

Sheffield Hallam is the largest provider of health and social care education in England. With courses covering all disciplines including; nursing, midwifery, allied health, social care and sport, its healthcare curriculum creates the skilled workforce the NHS needs to deliver better long term health outcomes for the nation.

The investment of £225,000 for the six projects comes from a health education Challenge Fund set up by the OfS and administered by the College of Podiatry as part of the strategic interventions in health education disciplines programme. The fund aims to increase the number of students entering and completing small, specialist healthcare courses.

After a competitive bidding process, projects were chosen by a panel including representatives from the College of Podiatry, the Society and College of Radiographers, the Council of Deans of Health and Health Education England.

Suzanne Rastrick, chief allied health professions officer at NHS England, said: “I particularly welcome this resource from the Office for Students to support undergraduate podiatry and therapeutic radiography programmes. These allied health professions form a vital contribution to the delivery of efficient and effective care for all of our citizens and must be secured for future healthcare delivery.”