University of Northampton to open UK’s first Competence Test Centre for internationally educated nurses and midwives

Date 16.11.2015

The University of Northampton has today opened the UK’s first practical assessment centre for nurses and midwives who completed their training outside of Europe.

The University of Northampton’s School of Health will be delivering the new Test of Competence on behalf of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) which will ensure that the hundreds of nurses and midwives who are internationally educated and wish to practise in the UK are assessed in a robust and objective way, in order to protect the public.

The new assessment process will consist of two parts – a multiple choice computer-based exam, and a practical clinical examination to be held at the University of Northampton. The system will ensure that all people joining the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s register are meeting the UK standards.

The Competence Test Centre was opened by Jackie Smith, Chief Executive and Registrar of the NMC, a ceremony attended by professionals from various healthcare organisations.

Moira Ingham, Dean of the University of Northampton’s School of Health said: “The University of Northampton’s School of Health has been working closely with the Nursing and Midwifery Council to develop a fit for purpose competency assessment package for nurses and midwives who trained internationally, but wish to practise as registrants in the UK. This builds on our previous work with the NMC on providing the aptitude test for EU nurses and midwives.

“Clearly these assessments must place patient care and safety at the heart of the process. In conjunction with the NMC, academics and practitioners at the University have developed practical and examination based aptitude tests, designed to assess knowledge, skills and behaviours across the fields of nursing and midwifery practice. Once in operation these assessments will be reviewed and evaluated to ensure they remain fit for purpose and that they continue to meet current legislation and health care providers’ needs.

Jackie Smith, NMC Chief Executive and Registrar, commented:  “Each year, hundreds of nurses and midwives who trained outside Europe apply to practise in the UK. As a responsible regulator, we need to make sure that they are able to demonstrate clinical and theoretical knowledge as well as the professional values that will ensure patient-centred, compassionate care. This test will put candidates through scenarios that they may find in the UK’s health services.

​”This method of testing competence has been used in countries around the world for many years. It is important that we recognise, and anticipate changes within healthcare services in the UK. We know that the current system, while effective, can impact on workforce planning and that isn’t good for the profession or the public we protect. This new method of assessing competence addresses that issue and demonstrates our continued commitment to public protection.”

The Competence Test Centre will be based at the University of Northampton’s Park Campus. For more information regarding the competence testing, visit: