Applying for approved education institution status and programme approval

Our legislation defines our role in the education and training of nurses and midwives. It allows us to establish standards of education and training which include the ‘outcomes to be achieved by that education and training’. It further enables us to take appropriate steps to satisfy ourselves that those standards and requirements are met, which includes approving education providers and awarding approved education institution (AEI) status before approving their education programmes.

We are responsible for ensuring that the standards we set for pre-education programmes for nursing and midwifery and post-registration programmes provide students with the opportunity to meet the competencies required to join, and remain, on our register. We also ensure approved education programmes for nurses and midwives continue to meet our standards.

Thumbnail of AEI status process flow chart

Quality assurance (QA) is our process for making sure all AEIs continue to meet our requirements and their approved education programmes comply with our standards.

See the AEI status and programme approval flow chart which shows the different steps in the process.

If you are a higher education institution seeking to run an NMC-approved programme and you do not currently have AEI status

You must notify the NMC in writing, setting out a proposal which includes: 

  • Rationale for the proposal and intended programme delivery.
  • Evidence of resources in place to support the proposal.
  • Details of wider support (for example partnerships with employer organisations, practice placement providers, education commissioners and support from a senior level (for example Chief Nursing Officers)).
  • Proposed numbers of student intakes, start dates, fields of nursing (where appropriate) and a breakdown of student numbers for each programme.
  • A formal timeline for all aspects of the proposal and intended future delivery of programmes.

Once we have received assurance we will conduct our preliminary QA checks and then share the information with our external QA provider Mott MacDonald. This process will take up to 20 working days and we will inform you in writing once the information has been shared with Mott MacDonald.

Mott MacDonald will then take the next steps and proceed with the operational delivery in accordance with our QA framework. This will include granting access to the QA portal and requesting evidence to demonstrate how you meet the AEI requirements. Mott MacDonald will also schedule an approval visit for AEI status to be sought and the recommended outcome will be determined.

Following the AEI approval visit, Mott MacDonald will make a recommendation to us whether all AEI requirements have been met and assurance received. We will inform you of this outcome in writing within 20 working days of receiving the recommendation and report.

Once AEI status has been achieved, you can then apply for NMC programme approval. This can be done through Mott MacDonald and the portal. If AEI status is not achieved, you will be unable to seek approval of an NMC programme.

We recommend that institutions wishing to become AEIs and run NMC approved programmes start this process at least 12 months before the intended intake and commencement of a programme. This is to ensure that our preliminary checks can be completed prior to possible recruitment processes to any programme.

If you are already an AEI but you do not currently deliver pre-registration education and you wish to do so

You must notify the NMC in writing, setting out a proposal which includes:

  • Rationale for the proposal and intended programme delivery.
  • Evidence of resources in place to support the proposal.
  • Details of wider support (for example partnerships with employer organisations, practice placement providers, education commissioners and support from a senior level (for example Chief Nursing Officers)).
  • Proposed numbers of student intakes, start dates, fields of nursing (where appropriate) and a breakdown of student numbers for each programme.
  • A formal timeline for all aspects of the proposal and intended future delivery of programmes.

Once this has been reviewed and we have conducted our preliminary QA checks we will share this information with Mott MacDonald. This process will take up to 20 working days and we will inform you in writing once the information has been shared with Mott MacDonald. They will then get in touch with you and guide you through the next steps. This will include submitting documentation for scrutiny and undertaking a programme approval visit.

Following the programme approval visit, Mott MacDonald will make a recommendation to us confirming that our standards have been met and assurance received. We will then conduct our internal QA checks and will inform you of this outcome in writing within 20 working days of receiving the recommendation and report. 

An NMC approved programme cannot run until our programme approval process has been undertaken and evidence of compliance with our standards has been achieved. If programme approval is not granted, you would be unable to run or recruit to the NMC programme and would need to reapply for programme approval.

If you are already an AEI running a pre-registration programme and wish to reapprove a pre-registration programme or seek approval for a post-registration programme

Please contact Mott MacDonald, who will guide you through the next steps. They will organise a programme approval event and make a recommendation to us confirming our standards have been met and assurance received. We will then conduct our internal QA checks and will inform you of this outcome in writing within 20 working days of receiving the recommendation and report.

For more information, please refer to the Mott MacDonald website where you can find the quality assurance handbook.