NMC to amend English language test requirements for applicants trained outside the UK

27 June 2016

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has announced that it is changing its International English Language Testing System (IELTS) requirements for nurses and midwives coming on to the register from overseas and within the European economic area. These changes will increase flexibility for applicants while ensuring that the appropriate standard of English language is still achieved. 

Under the previous system applicants were required to achieve the IELTS Academic Test Level 7 in reading, writing, speaking and listening in a single sitting. Under the new protocols the NMC still requires applicants to achieve Level 7 in all areas, but this can now be achieved over two sittings of the tests. Both tests must be within six months of each other and no single score must be below 6.5 in any of the areas across both tests. 

NMC Chief Executive and Registrar Jackie Smith said: 

“IELTS Level 7 provides us and the public with assurance that nurses and midwives applying to join the register from outside the UK meet the appropriate standard of English language required to work in the UK. 

“We are mindful of the staffing pressures in the health service and after listening to feedback from stakeholders we have introduced changes to our process. 

“We will continue to listen to feedback from nurses, midwives and their employersand assess any opportunities to introduce further flexibility.” 

IELTS is a robust, well-established and internationally recognised method of testing English language ability, and is also used by the Home Office and other healthcare regulators in English-speaking countries, where IELTS Level 7 is a common requirement.



Notes for editors

1.    For media enquiries, please contact Ben Jackson on 020 7681 5649 or email media@nmc-uk.org

2.    The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is the independent professional regulator for nurses and midwives in the UK. We exist to protect the public. We do this by maintaining the register of qualified nurses and midwives and setting standards of education, training, conduct and performance. We make sure that nurses and midwives keep their skills and knowledge up to date through a regular revalidation process. If concerns are raised about the standards of a registered nurse or midwife, we have a duty to investigate and, where necessary, take action to protect the public.