In the UK, Project 2000 nurse education, introduced over the last eight years, aimed to increase the professional status of nurses and enhance skills, focusing on wider community care. This paper reports some of the results from a research project conducted between 1994 and 1996, funded by the Department of Health (Project 2000 Fitness for Purpose 1996). It was hypothesized that the changes in Project 2000 training might attract those more academically qualified and lead to more rapid career progression. The results found in this study did not support either of these hypotheses and suggestions are made about the reasons for the negative findings. © 2000 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.