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Ulster University is continuing to support the vital transformation of Northern Ireland’s healthcare system by launching its new Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Competence Test Centre at Ulster University’s Magee campus, which aims to meet the growing demands for overseas nurses and midwives wishing to work in UK.

Nurses and midwives registered outside of the EU/EEA are required to undergo stringent procedures before they can practice in the UK. This involves successfully taking a two-part test of competence. The first part of the test is computer-based and can be taken anywhere in the world. If successful, applicants can then take the objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) at a UK test centre.

Situated at the University’s Magee campus, as part of the School of Nursing, the new purpose-built, designated test centre will deliver the objective, structured clinical examination (OSCE), which tests applicants’ skills, knowledge and behaviours in a simulated practice environment.

The test centre at Ulster University is one of just three in the UK and the only centre in Northern Ireland. It joins similar centres in Oxford Brookes University and University of Northampton.

All non-EU/EEA registered nurses recruited directly by the Trusts will be required to go through the Test Centre at Magee before they can practice. With no waiting lists currently in place, Ulster University can bring our much-needed registered nurses recruited overseas through the centre immediately and ensure that they are all promptly allocated to clinical practice and patient care.

The new test centre, which has the potential to test 45 candidates per week will help to increase nursing capacity in UK, allowing a greater choice of location and shorter waiting times for overseas nurses and midwives wanting to sit the test.

The new Competence Test Centre facility at Magee Campus also serves the Independent Sector in enabling overseas nurses recruited to work in the Nursing Home sector to undertake the OSCE ‎in Northern Ireland.

Speaking at the opening of the new test centre, Professor Charlotte McArdle, Chief Nursing Officer for Northern Ireland, stated:

“We are actively addressing the nursing staffing issue on a number of levels, including the recruitment of 622 overseas nurses by 2020. The new Nursing and Midwifery Council Competence Test Centre at Ulster University will ensure that any oversees nurses who apply to work within the trusts each year have gained professional registration and that they are fit to practice in the UK at the required standard.

“We recognise the invaluable contribution that nurses educated outside the EU and EEA make and the key role they play in the UK’s health and care workforce, but it is vital that they possess the correct skills and qualifications required.”

Professor Carol Curran, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Life and Health Sciences, also said:

“We are delighted that Ulster University is one of just three universities in the UK selected to offer such a vital service. This new test centre demonstrates the commitment of the University and the Department to strengthening and enhancing the healthcare workforce.

“Located at our Magee campus, the centre builds on our delivery of our nursing education provision and stratified medicine in the city.  Alongside innovations such as our Physician Associate Course, our School of Nursing and our allied health profession courses, this test centre is a further opportunity to make a tangible impact on the pressing challenges and demands of our health service.

“Across our own skilled and committed nursing graduates and the nurses who will gain their registration through this centre, our Magee campus makes a valuable and rewarding contribution to nursing care."

Lynn Fee, HSC International Recruitment Nursing Lead / Assistant Director of Nursing at Southern Health and Social Care Trust, also stated:

“The new test centre in Ulster University’s Magee campus is vital to ensure that the nurses educated outside the EU and EEA who wish to join our register can sit the test in a timely way, assisting overall in the direct intervention of healthcare workforce challenges in Northern Ireland.

“The current project to recruit overseas nurses for the HSC follows a regional approach. Nurses must pass through the NMC Competence Test Centre before they can practice and, once registered, are placed into the points of greatest need within the Healthcare System to best serve our community.”

For further information on Ulster University’s NMC competence test centre, visit