How we approve education programmes

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Please note that we have appointed The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) as our new education quality assurance service provider. Their contract is scheduled to start on 1 September 2024. We are in the process of planning transition arrangements between our outgoing provider, Mott MacDonald, and the QAA and will update these webpages in due course. Read more here

Education institutions need to get our approval before they can deliver programmes for nurses, midwives and nursing associates.

This is part of our quality assurance (QA) process, which we carry out in line with our QA framework. 

A programme cannot run until it successfully passes through our approval process and we’ve confirmed in writing that it has been approved.

You'll find resources and answers to commonly asked queries on this page, which you may find helpful when requesting programme approval.

About our approval process

We base our approval on whether education institutions and their practice learning partners can meet our education and training standards, as well as the relevant programme standards.

We’ll approve a programme if it meets our standards during our four-part ‘gateway process’.

The four ‘gateways’ are:

  • Gateway 1 – Part 1: Standards framework for nursing and midwifery education
  • Gateway 2 – Part 2: Standards for student supervision and assessment
  • Gateway 3 – Part 3: Programme standards
  • Gateway 4 – approval visit 

A programme cannot run until it successfully passes through each of these gateways and we've confirmed in writing that it has been approved.

Find out what it's like to go through the process.

Request NMC approval for your programme

Find out more about requesting approval to run a new education programme as:

We have a separate process for modifying an existing programme.

We've put together a scenario on the process of gaining approval.

Programme endorsement

There are two types of programme endorsement which an Approved Education Institution (AEI) can propose:

  • AEIs may choose to deliver an already approved programme being delivered in the UK outside of the UK (this only applies to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man), using comparable programme arrangements.
  • AEIs may choose to deliver parts of approved programmes outside the UK (this only applies to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man).

The UK-based AEI is accountable for the delivery of the endorsed programme as part of their overall assurance to us.

We don’t approve direct franchising for another institution to deliver the programme on behalf of the AEI.

If you are considering delivering an endorsed programme or parts of an endorsed programme outside of the UK, please submit an endorsement request via the QA link. You will need to provide the following information as part of your request:

  • Details of Commissioners.
  • Confirmation that the NMC approved teachers delivering the programme outside of the UK are either employees of the programme provider or formally accredited by the programme provider for the explicit purpose of delivering the programme, they meet NMC requirements by being NMC registrants with due regard to the programme or field of practice and hold a recordable teaching qualification (or equivalent).
  • Details of the anticipated nature of partnerships and commitment in both the support of the programme and in the provision of resources.
  • Evidence is required that the NMC approved curriculum will be the same wherever it is being delivered. This must be delivered within the context of UK healthcare.
  • Details of how the quality assurance arrangements associated with the delivery of the programme outside of the UK will interface with the QA processes of the approved institution, taking account of the local context.

We will review your request and let you know our decision about whether the proposed endorsement can proceed to our gateway approvals process.

Why we may withdraw our approval

Programmes are approved indefinitely. However, if an AEI or practice placement partner does not meet our standards, we may withdraw our approval.

We’ll also look to withdraw approval if we receive a report that indicates significant risk or concerns.

Find out more about how we monitor approved programmes for risks.

Approval reports

From April 2019, we've started publishing programme approval visit reports for all the education institutions and programmes that we’ve visited.

Answering your questions

The quality assurance framework and handbook outline the timelines for programme approval. We set deadlines to allow enough time for completion of the programme approval process through each gateway.

Programmes seeking approval for a 2019 start had to submit their evidence for Gateway 1 by 31 December 2018.

Programmes seeking approval for a 2020 start are expected to submit their evidence for Gateway 1 by 31 April 2019.

Further information

We encourage you to complete your gateway submission before the deadline.

If you miss a deadline, your visit may be delayed which could then impact on when students can start the programme.

All students who have started a programme are entitled to complete that programme as advertised (as per the Competition and Markets Authority). However, if you want to transfer your students who are starting their second or third year onto the new programme once approved, you will need to present your transfer arrangements as part of Gateway 3 of the programme approval process. 

Your transfer arrangements will need to demonstrate how the students will meet the new standards and any differences in the proficiencies through a mapping process.

See section 3 of the QA Handbook for more details.

Further information

Transitional transfer arrangements will allow approved education institutions (AEIs) to adopt standards for student supervision and assessment (SSSA) for existing pre-registration nursing programmes. To do this you will need to provide details of these transfer arrangements during Gateway 2 of the programme approval process.

All students who have started a programme are entitled to complete that programme (as per the Competition and Markets Authority) and AEIs will need to ensure that this is considered within their transfer plans.

Some AEIs may keep final year students on the Standards to support learning and assessment in practice (SLAiP) model as this may cause less disruption for them. AEIs will have to identify how the two systems would be monitored.

Practice learning partners can operate both systems, but would need to have control systems in place to ensure the right system is being run if students from different AEIs are in the same place but working to different SSSA models. Your visitor will be looking for and seeking assurance on this. 

Taking account of current student expectations, you may adopt the SSSA model for all existing NMC approved programmes for new and current students. You must present your transfer arrangements for this process at Gateway 2 of the approval process which will then be reviewed by the visitor.

Where you plan to adopt the SSSA model for midwifery this will be done as a major modification to allow for due regard. 

Further information