Thursday 21 January 2016


Nurses and midwives from Europe will need to prove they have the required English language skills to practise in the UK, under new rules coming into force today.

If nurses and midwives cannot provide evidence of their English language skills - such as having trained or worked in an English-speaking country – they will need to take an officially recognised English language test, according to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Under current rules, medical professionals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) are required to take a test in order to register as practitioners in the UK. Many thousands take the International English Language Testing System  (IELTS) each year to prove their English proficiency.

John Gildea, Head IELTS at the British Council commented;

“As a secure and reliable test of the four skills - listening, reading writing and speaking - IELTS will also be an ideal choice for nurses and midwives who want to prove their English language ability. Our 50+ IELTS test centres across the UK stand ready to provide access and support to any medical staff wishing to test their English skills – and we hope that this will help to increase levels of public confidence in all medical staff working in the UK”.

According to the BBC, the NMC has more than 690,000 nurses and midwives on its register. Around 66,000 of these come from non-EU countries and 33,000 from the EU.

IELTS continues to be the world’s most popular English language proficiency test for education and global migration, and is accepted by over 9,000 organisations worldwide, including schools, universities, employers, immigration authorities and professional bodies.

IELTS is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment.

Notes to Editor

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

IELTS is the International English Language Testing System, the world’s most popular English language proficiency test for higher education and global migration with over 2.5 million tests taken in the last year. Over 9,000 organisations trust and accept IELTS as a secure, valid and reliable indicator of true to life ability to communicate in English for education, immigration and professional accreditation. IELTS is jointly owned by British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment.

British Council is the UK's international organisation for education and cultural relations. Dedicated to building trust through the exchange of knowledge between people worldwide, the British Council is represented in over 100 countries.

IDP: IELTS Australia is a subsidiary of IDP Education‎, one of the world's leading international education organisations, offering student placement with universities and colleges in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. IDP Education has 45 years’ experience in international higher education, placing more than 400,000 students.

Cambridge English Language Assessment is the world's leading provider of exams for learners of English. Each year the exams are taken by more than 5 million people, in 130 countries.

IELTS USA is the American division of IELTS located in Los Angeles, CA, responsible for U.S. stakeholder relations, as well as the management and delivery of the IELTS test center network throughout the USA.

About the test

Candidates are tested in listening, reading, writing and speaking. All tests are scored on a banded system from 1 (the lowest) through to 9 (the highest band).

IELTS offers a choice of two versions, to serve both academic and non-academic purposes. IELTS Academic measures English language proficiency needed for an academic, higher learning environment. The tasks and texts are accessible to all test-takers, irrespective of their subject focus. IELTS General Training measures English language proficiency in a practical, everyday context. The tasks and texts reflect both workplace and social situations. General Training is suitable for immigration purposes to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

A sample of government and professional associations who recognise or require applicants to hold an IELTS test result include:

·         Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)

·         Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP)

·         UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)

·         Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools and National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), USA

·         International Monetary Fund 

For further media information, please contact:  

Anna Brosnan, British Council – / +44 (0)207 389 4475

Kim Dienhoff, IDP: IELTS Australia –

Stephen McKenna, Cambridge English Language Assessment –