OSCE testing capacity increases to 50,000 for international and returning professionals

Published on 08 February 2024

The total number of candidates who can take their Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) each year has now surpassed 50,000, ensuring that international and returning professionals will continue to be able to join the NMC register as quickly and safely as possible.

The OSCE is a practical exam that tests candidates on their clinical knowledge and skills. It is part of our Test of Competence which ensures that professionals educated outside the UK, and those rejoining the register after an extended period away from practice, have the skills and knowledge to provide safe and effective care.

Internationally educated professionals, and those returning to practice, make a significant and very welcome contribution to people’s health and wellbeing at a time of rising demand for care. Of a record 808,488 nurses, midwives and nursing associates on our register, nearly 178,000 were educated outside the UK.

There are five OSCE test centre partners across the UK: the University of Ulster, Northumbria University, Oxford Brookes University, the University of Northampton, and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Last year Northumbria University increased its testing capacity from 7,000 candidates to 22,000. Now, Ulster University will be expanding its OSCE testing capacity to accommodate up to 8,000 internationally educated applicants to the NMC register, and those wishing to return to practice, every year in Northern Ireland. This takes the overall testing capacity past 50,000.

Andrea Sutcliffe, NMC Chief Executive and Registrar, said:

“Our total UK OSCE testing capacity has now reached 50,000 candidates each year – an impressive milestone that will help ensure a smooth path to professional registration for increasing numbers of new recruits into the nursing and midwifery professions.

"Internationally educated professionals make an important and valuable contribution to our nation’s health and wellbeing. Our test centre partners have always played a vital role in welcoming these skilled and knowledgeable professionals from all over the world.

"Their expansion will help more professionals join our register safely and quickly. This is good news for their future colleagues and for people who use services across the UK, supporting the delivery of the safe, effective and kind care they have the right to receive.”

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