The number of students entering U.S. nursing schools rose 11 percent last year, after falling nearly a third from 1983 to 1987, according to a survey of more than 220 schools across the nation.

Schools responding to the annual survey, to be published Monday by the trade magazine Nursingworld Journal, had a total of 15,494 freshmen in 1988, up from 13,970 a year earlier.The magazine's publisher, Richard A. DeVito, attributed the turnaround primarily to rising salaries and plentiful job opportunities. "Probably the most important thing is that there has been so much publicity about the national shortage of nurses," he said Friday.

But a more troubling factor, DeVito said, is that many schools have reduced minimum entry level grade-point averages to attract more applicants. Perhaps as a result, he said, graduate nurses failed their licensing exams at a record rate of 16 percent in 1988, four times the level of 1987.