Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia - Policy: English language skills registration standard
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Policy: English language skills registration standard

Download a PDF copy of this Policy: English language skills registration standard policy (58.5KB)

This policy is developed pursuant to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) functions under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).

Section 38 of the National Law requires the NMBA to develop an English language skills registration standard.


The NMBA English language skills registration standard (2019) (ELS standard) sets out the NMBA’s requirements for English language skills for applicants for registration. The ELS standard provides flexible and varied approaches for applicants to demonstrate compliance with the ELS standard. The ELS standard sets out five ways (pathways) that an applicant for initial registration can demonstrate their English language competency.

The purpose of this policy is to provide information about:

  1. Demonstrating English language proficiency at last equivalent to the other pathways in the standard

    Pathway 5 states:
    In other defined circumstances/cases where there is compelling evidence demonstrating English language proficiency at least equivalent to the other pathways in this standard set out in a policy published by the Board.

    This policy confirms that:
  • The NMBA defines and approves circumstances/cases meeting the above pathway, not its committees or boards.
  • The above pathway does not apply to individual circumstances/cases but to a group or cohort.

  • At this time the NMBA has not approved any circumstances/cases in which this pathway is applicable.

  1. Exemptions with respect to limited registration

    The NMBA currently does not have pathways to limited registration and therefore the exemptions with respect to limited registration in the ELS registration standard do not apply at this time.
  2. Determining full time equivalence

    Key considerations of the NMBA in determining full-time equivalence:

  • To determine whether the amount of study undertaken is full-time or a percentage of full-time equivalent, the advice of the education provider should be initially relied upon. If this advice is not available then, as set by the Australian Qualifications Framework Council that states: the accepted length of a full-time year, used for educational participation, is 1200 hours.

  • The study can be completed either part-time or full-time; however, the evidence of combined studies completed must be equal to what a full-time student would complete in a five-year period.

  • Concurrent education may be taken into account but must not be counted for more than one full-time equivalent load. For example, an applicant that has studied two programs over a year concurrently, one at half full-time equivalent and the other at three quarters full-time equivalent, this would equal one full-time equivalent for one year

  • The education provided was undertaken primarily face to face and requires students to use English language speaking, writing, reading and listening skills

  • Failed subjects and ‘recognised prior learning’ (RPL) are not counted towards a full-time course load.


The NMBA will review this policy a least every five years, or as necessary.

Page reviewed 2/05/2019