The UK has always been an attractive destination for students from all over the world. However, Nursing has gained popularity only in the past five or ten years, because the shortage of qualified nurses in the country has reached a crisis point. In an attempt to remedy the situation, the UK’s government has tried importing nurses from abroad – mainly from Eastern Europe, Ukraine, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India.

However, this strategy has so far had only partial success, and that’s why UK nursing colleges and schools have launched a large-scale campaign to attract young people from all over the world. In the paragraphs that follow, we shall have a close look at the exact steps a foreign national has to take so as to apply for, enroll in, and successfully complete an academic program in nursing in the UK.

Study Nursing in the UK

Step 1: Choose your nursing school

Simple as this first step may seem, it has its pitfalls to beware of. The main problem seems to be that new nursing colleges and schools have been mushrooming across the UK for several years now, and a young person may reasonably come to doubt their legitimacy.

A good way to start your search is by visiting the Course Finder section of the NHS’s official website. In the section “Leading to a career in”, the drop-down menu reveals that there are four available Nursing profiles to choose from. These include, for example, Nursing (Adult), Nursing (Nursing Children/Pediatric), Nursing (Mental Health), etc.

Next, you should choose the desired “Type of qualification”. The options here are “Accelerated” (graduate entry), “Postgraduate”, or “Undergraduate”. Almost all nursing schools in the UK offer full-time, part-time, and distance learning programs in Nursing. On the website, you can also choose your preferred region of residence in the UK.

Currently, the top 3 nursing schools in the UK are those at the universities of Liverpool, Edinburgh, and Glasgow.

Step 2: Apply to a nursing school of your choice    

As a next step to studying nursing in the UK, you should check and fulfill the admission requirements for foreign students of the nursing school you’ve chosen to apply to. The tuition fees for UK nationals and their EU peers are still the same, but the fees for overseas students may be a bit higher.

Then, you should have your secondary education diploma, your ID, and your birth certificate translated into English and apostilled. A quick check reveals that most nursing colleges in the UK require that candidates produce an average Grade Point Average of 3.25 or higher on a 4.0 scale (GPAs on different scales must be converted accordingly).

Being fluent in English is a must if you’d like to study and practice Nursing in the UK. According to the latest requirements of the British Government, nurses and midwives wishing to practice in the country are required to score 7.0 in IELTS.

As it was elicited above, UK universities are trying to attract young people from all over the world to the nursing profession. Therefore, for the academic year 2018-2019, the average acceptance rate of all nursing schools across the country was above 85%.

Still, all foreign nationals who wish to study Nursing in the UK and subsequently practice the profession in the country are required to successfully complete the so-called Overseas Nursing Program (ONP). ONP will most probably be included in your BSc or MSc programs. 

Step 3: Apply for and obtain a student visa for the UK

Young people who are not EU, EEA, or Swiss nationals, and who wish to come to the UK to study for more than six months, will need to apply for a Tier 4 visa. The application process usually takes three months to complete, so you should start it at least five months prior to the date when your classes are scheduled to start.

When applying for a Tier 4 visa, you’ll need to produce apostilled and translated to English copies of your documents, including your passport, your secondary education diploma, and a bank statement to prove that you have enough means to support yourself for the period of your study.

Last but not the least step in studying nursing in the UK, you’ve got to show them the Letter of Acceptance that you’ve received from your future nursing school. The wisest thing to do is complete your Tier 4 Visa Application online. Also, you’ll need to pay a fee and an Immigration Health Surcharge. These amount to £300 per year of visa. In other words, if your Bachelor’s program in Nursing is 4 years, you’ll have to pay GBP 1,200.

Step 4: Schedule and attend a visa application center

Unlike the application for a student visa for the U.S. that requires the applicants to attend a live interview with an embassy official, those applying for a UK visa will need to attend the nearest Application Center so as to submit their biometrics – digital fingerprints and a recent photo. On rare occasions, the applicants may be asked to participate in a live interview with an embassy official.

Step 5: Complete your registration with the NMS and obtain your license

When you’ve successfully completed your BSc program in Nursing, you’ll have to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council in order to be able to practice the profession in the UK. Once you’ve completed your registration, you can work in the National Health Service (NHS) or for a private health services provider. Here it should be made clear that while NMC regulates to work nurses and midwives in the UK, it does not provide any assistance in landing their first job.


In the paragraphs above we outlined the main steps one has to take so as to study Nursing and become a registered nurse in the UK. But having in mind that Nursing is a self-sacrificing vocation, young people may rightly ask how much they can expect to earn as nurses in the UK. According to the latest statistical information, a newly-qualified nurse can expect to earn around £23,000 a year. This sum may go slightly up if you acquire any additional certificates and qualifications.


I hope that this article on how to study nursing in the UK was helpful. Feel free to check out the Courses in the United Kingdom for more information on courses that are available in the UK.