WA's nursing union has condemned a decision by the University of WA to axe a fast-track nursing degree, saying it will add to looming staff shortages.
The Master of Nursing Science currently allows those with a degree in another field to become a registered nurse in a two-year intensive course that can be paid off by HECS.
Australian Nursing Federation WA secretary Mark Olson said it meant graduates could become registered nurses after two years of intense hospital placement and coursework instead of the usual three and would help address a looming shortage.
He said the union viewed the move to axe the course as short-sighted, "given the number of nurses in the workforce due to retire in the next five to nine years".
"The UWA nursing degree was an affordable and attractive option for mature, driven individuals wanting to make a start in nursing and with an almost 100 per cent uptake of its graduates, it was a hive of future nursing leaders that WA might now miss out on," Mr Olson said.
"Students wanting to do a fast-track nursing program will now have to pay full fees at another university."
Students are circulating a petition asking for the university to reconsider the move.
A first-year student said the university had told students of the decision only a few weeks ago, blaming financial reasons and a lack of interest in the course.
"We think it's a backward step because it limits the option for people to do a postgraduate course like this, particularly given the recent talk of nursing shortages and the fact that WA is hiring from overseas," she said.
UWA said it had discontinued the degree as part of a review of all its courses.
"Existing students will be fully supported to complete their course and if a student does not complete the course at UWA they will be able to finish it at another WA university and will still receive a UWA degree," a spokesman said.