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Universities may be given more power over entry requirements, says NMC

Student nurses looking at skeleton


The NMC may give universities more flexibility to determine their own course entry requirements to help them ‘become more accessible and inclusive’.

The nursing regulator is also considering increasing simulated practice learning on nursing courses and whether to retain, change or remove standards on placement. This comes as part of efforts to modernise its education programme standards.

It is considering the changes because the NMC no longer needs to follow EU directive requirements – on factors such as student selection, length of programme, and theory and practice learning hours – after Britain left the EU last year. Any proposed changes will be subject to full public consultation.

Professor Geraldine Walters, NMC executive director of professional practice, said the NMC wants to ‘innovate and improve on our existing programme standards’. She added: ‘Modernisation matters because it would allow educators to offer more flexible courses to more potential students.’

This follows two reports that were commissioned by the NMC and published on its website last year. One by Harrow Consulting looked at the impact of the EU directive requirements on nursing and midwifery education, while consultancy Traverse sought the views of stakeholders across the UK.

Most stakeholders in the research said they would prefer to retain the requirements of the EU directive. However, in papers released yesterday for its upcoming council meeting, the NMC council highlighted areas where there was ‘more appetite for flexibility’:

  • innovative simulation to support practice learning;
  • support for widening access to nursing and midwifery education;
  • the need to modernise the language of the EU directive in relation to knowledge and skills requirements for both nursing and midwifery.

Although, the NMC council noted that its standards of proficiency, released in 2020, for nursing and midwifery already go beyond the EU directive requirements for these areas.

It also raised concerns that changing the standards too much would reduce the mobility of the workforce between the UK and EU.

Professor Walters concluded: ‘We’ve heard from many of our stakeholders during our research so far. Many are cautious about change, while some would like to see radical proposals. Importantly, nothing will change without a full consultation first.’

In 2019, Nursing in Practice hosted an online debate on whether universities should lower entry requirements for nursing.