UK Health Education

Healthcare courses in nursing, midwifery and the allied health professions at universities in the UK draw students from all over the world attracted by top-class teaching, academics who are often leaders in their field and ground-breaking research that informs teaching and impacts on the delivery of healthcare services. Qualifications awarded at UK universities meet strict academic standards and are recognised and respected throughout the world, offering great value and improving career prospects.

Healthcare courses are offered at around 85 higher education institutions across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland ranging from new universities to some of the oldest universities in the UK, with courses available at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Many UK universities have long-standing partnerships with universities across the globe and a number also have campuses overseas delivering health courses. Some UK universities also offer distance-learning qualifications, so that international students can join a global community of professionals and apply what they are learning to their local situations.

uk health student


UK Nursing education programmes that result in being able to join the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s register and practise in the UK (pre-registration programmes) are only run at NMC-approved educational institutions. Courses usually run over three years. Half the programme is based in clinical practice, with direct contact with patients and families. This can include the home, community, hospitals, independent and voluntary organisations. All nurses and midwives educated in the UK must have successfully completed an approved programme of education to be registered with the NMC.

Post-registration courses for health and social care professionals allow practitioners to “top-up” their existing qualification to degree level or gain a second specialisation. For overseas nurses from outside the EU they provide a route to qualification for practice in the UK, known as the Overseas Nursing Programme (ONP). Any nurses or midwives thinking about joining the register in the UK can check the NMC’s requirements on their website:

Information for international student nurses can be found on the UK Council for International Student Affairs website:


Midwifery education programmes leading to registration are also only run at NMC-approved educational institutions. Courses usually take a minimum of three years, unless you are already registered with the NMC as a level 1 (adult) nurse, in which case the education programme can be reduced to 18 months. Half of the programme is based in clinical practice with direct contact with women, their babies and families. This can include the home, community and hospitals, and in other maternity services such as midwife-led units and birth centres.

Allied Health Professions

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is the body that sets standards of professional education for allied health professionals in the UK. Becoming a qualified professional requires studying at degree level and some careers such as art therapy, drama therapy and music therapy also require postgraduate study following a first degree in a relevant subject. The HCPC currently approves programmes in the 16 professions which they regulate including physiotherapists, radiographers and speech and language therapists. For a full list, visit the HCPC website:


Healthcare Science

Healthcare science is the application of science and technology to the diagnosis and clinical care of patients. Undergraduate training for the NHS Practitioner Training Programme (PTP) integrates academic learning and workplace-based training leading to an approved and accredited BSc honours degree in one of five themes of healthcare science: cardiovascular, respiratory and sleep sciences; neurosensory sciences; life sciences; medical physics technology; clinical engineering. The programme includes 50 weeks of workplace-based training in the NHS over three years with a broad scientific training in the first two years, followed by specialisation in year 2 or 3. There are currently 22 universities in the UK offering accredited bachelor honours degree programmes for PTP.

Information for international students

The UK has a long history of welcoming international students into diverse, creative and multicultural universities with over 430,000 international students from over 180 countries studying in the UK every year.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is the organisation which processes all full-time applications to UK higher education courses. Each year over 115,000 people from outside the UK apply through UCAS to study full-time undergraduate degree courses in the UK. UCAS provides free, impartial information and advice on what courses are available in the UK, how to choose a suitable course, and how to apply. UCAS does not provide higher education courses, make recommendations about which courses or providers to choose, or give advice on finances, immigration or visas.

Jonathan Eames, Council of Deans of Health

For more advice for international students considering applying to a university in the UK, visit the UCAS website: