Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship

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Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship

The Open University’s Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship (RNDA) supports employers to develop their healthcare workforce to become NMC (Nursing & Midwifery Council) Registered Nurses in the fields of Adult, Children and Young People, Learning Disabilities or Mental Health nursing.

Our nursing apprenticeship is based on our extensive experience of successfully delivering practice-based nursing programmes. Since 2002 we have supported more than 3,000 individuals to qualify as Registered Nurses.

Apprentices study flexibly alongside work, so they can put newly acquired knowledge and skills into practice immediately, for the positive benefit of service users and patients.


Why choose The Open University’s Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship?

  • Our tutor-supported online learning is provided and delivered flexibly and aims to meet the demands of your organisation, by enabling apprentices to balance study with personal commitments and minimising time away from the workplace.
  • Learning is accessible 24/7 and provides consistently high-quality education for multiple staff, regardless of their location.
  • Our experience in supporting learners, whatever their prior attainment, means you can develop applicants from all backgrounds, with us helping them to develop study skills as they engage with the programme.
  • Apprentices can apply what they learn immediately into practice, for the positive benefit of the organisation.
  • We have over 50 years of experience in providing knowledge and skills to busy working adults and have a proven history of delivering apprenticeship programmes to organisations from the NHS to FTSE 100 companies.

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The apprenticeship is suitable for growing and sustaining your organisation's healthcare workforce. It is for individuals who have demonstrated the capabilities and commitment to progress to Registered Nurse status. It can also be used to attract new talent to the organisation.

The programme offers an excellent progression route from relevant Level 2 or 3 apprenticeships, and we have well established credit transfer systems for accessing academic credit achieved by people who have undertaken prior relevant qualifications such as registered Nursing Associates and Healthcare Assistant Practitioners. Depending on prior studies, up to 180 credits can be transferred to the RNDA programme. In line with apprenticeship funding rules, an eligibility assessment will be conducted prior to undertaking a new apprenticeship.

Primary care and private, voluntary and independent (PVI) organisations.

We welcome interest from primary care and the PVI sector where: 

  • there is a minimum of five learners per cohort (across the local area) 
  • there is regional support to source placements and provide ongoing operational support. 

If you are enquiring from Primary Care or a PVI organisation looking to support fewer than five learners you will need to explore with your Primary Care Network or Integrated Care System whether a cohort of five, and the placement and regional operational support can be co-ordinated.

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Alongside the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) apprenticeship requirements, employers must also commit to the following programme requirements for the Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship:

  • Collaborate with the OU as part of the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) Apprenticeship Modification Process, to be approved as an employer partner.
  • Release apprentices to undertake at least 2300 hours of supernumerary clinical practice, over the course of the RNDA programme (770 hours at each stage of the programme).
  • Provide apprentices with practice supervisors and practice assessors, as per NMC (2018) Standards for student supervision and assessment.
  • Provide practice learning experiences for apprentices which meet the NMC (2018) Standards for pre-registration nursing programmes.
  • In consultation with the OU, the employer identifies and arranges alternative practice placement experiences within healthcare settings.

For further information, visit the information for RNDA employers webpage.

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The Open University (OU) has an inclusive approach to higher education and sets no formal entry requirements, other than those set by the NMC and the Apprenticeship Standards:

  • Evidence of achievement of Literacy at Functional Skills Level 2 or equivalent e.g. GCSE Grade C/4 or above in English, when applying to the programme.
  • Evidence of achievement of Numeracy at Functional Skills Level 2 or equivalent e.g. GCSE Grade C/4 or above in maths, when applying to the programme.
  • Satisfactory disclosure and barring service checks (enhanced checks).
  • Good health and character evidenced through occupational health clearance and a reference from current employer.
  • Demonstrate the values and personal qualities necessary for nursing throughout the recruitment and selection process, including during interview.

For the latest information on vaccination requirements for frontline health and social care workers, please check the NHS England website and the Vaccination as a Condition of Deployment: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Pre-Registration Nursing and Midwifery and Allied Health Profession Students.

Below is a summary of the eligibility criteria as set by the government for apprentices. For further information, see the Government funding rules.

To be eligible for government funding, at the start of the apprenticeship, apprentices must:

  • Be over 16 years old
  • Not be in full-time education
  • Not currently on another apprenticeship
  • Have the right to live and work in England
  • Spend at least 50% of their working hours in England

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The apprenticeship:

  • Is an equal balance of theory and practice. Learning is delivered through a combination of practice-based learning in the workplace and on placement, and through an enquiry-based learning approach delivered via supported online distance learning.
  • Develops effective evidence-based practice and underpinning knowledge, in an interprofessional and interdisciplinary environment.
  • Develops your existing healthcare workforce and can attract new talent.
  • Increases staff retention by offering a clear and structured career progression to valued employees.
  • Maximises the use of the apprenticeship levy.
  • Supports widening participation initiatives.

The programme has start dates in February and October each year. It takes approximately 3 years to complete on the standard route or 4 years on the extended route.

The apprenticeship is a partnership between the OU and your organisation, starting with the recruitment and selection process which is led by an OU Staff Tutor. The RNDA programme consists of at least 4600 hours which are equally split between theory and practice. The OU delivers the theory elements via online learning and formative and summative assessments. In addition to the supernumerary practice hours, all apprentices are required to undertake planned off-the-job training time in line with ESFA funding rules.

The programme is split into 3 stages with a 60-credit theory module and a 60-credit practice module in each stage:

Stage 1

Stage 2

Stage 3


Introducing health and social care

Understanding nursing: knowledge and theory

Assimilating nursing: knowledge and theory

BSc (Hons) Nursing awarded:

  • Adult
  • Children and young people
  • Learning disabilities
  • Mental health

Registration with the NMC.

EPA achieved.

Apprenticeship programme completed.

Introduction to healthcare practice

Developing nursing practice

Becoming an autonomous practitioner:

  • Adult
  • Children and young people
  • Learning disabilities
  • Mental health
   Theory modules
   Practice modules


At each stage of the programme the apprentice will undertake 770 hours of supernumerary practice, split into 3 practice learning periods. The first 2 practice learning periods in each stage are based in alternative practice settings, to be organised by your organisation in collaboration with the OU. The third practice learning period is usually based in the apprentice’s primary base (e.g. the apprentice’s normal place of work).

Each apprentice must have a practice supervisor and a practice assessor as per the NMC (2018) Standards for student supervision and assessment. They will supervise and assess the apprentice’s learning in practice to achieve the proficiencies, skills, and practice-based assessments within the Practice Assessment Document (PAD).

The End-point assessment (EPA) is fully integrated into the RNDA programme. On successfully completing all theory and practice assessments, the apprentice will be awarded a BSc (Hons) Nursing in the chosen field and be eligible for registration with the NMC in one of the four fields of nursing practice.

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The Open University has the experience and support in place to help apprentices succeed and make a positive impact on practice.

In addition to designated account management support, the OU will deploy expert staff to support your organisation and your apprentices. They will work collaboratively with the relevant roles in your organisation:

Practice Tutor (PT)/Academic Assessor

The PT is a key role and provides individual support to apprentices to progress and complete all the requirements of the apprenticeship or professional programme they have enrolled in. The support is tailored to the context of each learner’s professional duties and their workplace environment. Regular engagement with each learner’s line manager or work-based supervisor is a critical component of this role, including quarterly progress review meetings with three-way discussion. In addition, the PT coaches the apprentice to integrate their academic learning with their professional work, guide them in the development of their portfolio and prepares them for their integrated end-point assessment.

There are further roles and teams that support both apprentices and employers, who will work very closely with the PTs.

Academic Tutors

The role of the Academic Tutor is to support success by using, interpreting and building on the teaching resources produced by the OU and provided to apprentices. They monitor progression, mark assignments, provide personalised feedback and work in partnership to support the apprentices’ academic, personal and professional development. In addition, Academic Tutors provide some pastoral support to apprentices. They are sometimes also referred to as Associate Lecturers or Module Tutors.

Practice Assessor

Practice Assessors ensures the apprentice has resources to complete their NMC proficiencies. They meet the apprentice regularly to follow up on their progress, discuss and sign off their proficiencies. The Practice Assessor liaises with other professionals and units to ensure the apprentice gains opportunities for varied clinical experiences which may not be available in their allocated placement.

Practice Supervisor

The role of a Practice Supervisor is to support and supervise nursing and midwifery apprentices in the practice learning environment and to provide feedback to the Practice Assessor regarding the apprentice's progress. All nursing and midwifery apprentices must be supervised while learning in practice environments.

Nursing Staff Tutors

This is the local lead academic who supports your organisation to deliver the Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship to meet both organisational needs and the quality assurance requirements set by the NMC, with respect to practice learning requirements and learning environment audits.

Apprenticeship Enrolment and Support Team (AEST)

The AEST supports apprentices throughout their Apprenticeship journey. This team of friendly Senior Advisors can offer advice and support for a range of queries apprentices may have whilst studying their modules, whether that be for advice on an upcoming assignment or exam, navigation around the OU online learning platforms or when they are experiencing difficult circumstances that are having an impact on their studies. This support team is able to reach out to a wide range of relevant teams within the University to help apprentices get back on track again.

Apprenticeship Programme Delivery Managers (APDM)

Supports your organisation to deliver their apprenticeship programmes and manages the apprentice journey from start to completion. The Apprenticeship Programme Delivery Manager also provides employers with regular apprentice progress data.

Line Manager

This is a person in the workplace who supports the choice of apprenticeship programme for their employee or applicant and is involved in the onboarding process with their applicant. Line managers facilitate the apprentice to take off-the-job planned training time and they fully engage in quarterly progress review meetings with the Practice Tutor and apprentice. Line managers have regular one-to-one meetings with their apprentices to integrate the apprenticeship into performance and development. They are key to enabling a successful work-based project and completion of the apprentice’s end-point assessment.

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Using The Open University’s tried-and-trusted educational technology, our programmes are delivered flexibly around apprentices’ personal lives and the demands of your organisation.

The tutor-supported online learning is both varied and interactive, with multiple rich media formats that engage and enthuse apprentices on their journey. Learning can be accessed 24/7 on computers, tablets and mobile devices, so apprentices can study at home, work and on the move. Online tutorials, forums and discussion groups allow apprentices to learn from different industries and backgrounds.

An apprenticeship is a job with a formal programme of training which meets the requirements of the Apprenticeship Standard (in England), Framework (in Wales). The time that employers must allocate to this training can vary between programmes. The planned training hours will be detailed in the Training Plan. Note that in England and Wales, this time is called 'off-the-job training' in England and in Scotland, it is called 'protected time'. This is time for the apprentice to engage in the learning with the OU during their contracted working hours.

For full guidance visit:

The Open University’s flexible, blended learning approach makes it a lot easier for employers to effectively manage off-the-job training, while minimising the impact on productivity in the workplace.

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For a more detailed look at our Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship, download our brochure, visit the information for RNDA employers webpage, or contact our business team advisers.

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Education & Skills Funding Agency Apprenticeships  

Programme Summary

Location: England


  • Standard route: 3 years
  • Extended route: 4 years

Qualifications achieved at the end of the programme

Depending on the specialism:

  • BSc (Honours) Nursing (Adult)
  • BSc (Honours) Nursing (Children and Young People)
  • BSc (Honours) Nursing (Learning Disability)
  • BSc (Honours) Nursing (Mental Health)
  • Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship awarded by the Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE)

Level and standard

Specific entry requirements

Recognition of prior learning (RPL)

End-point assessment (EPA)

  • Integrated

Additional information

Contact us

Disability support

Further information

For a more detailed look at our Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship, download our brochure.

Download brochure

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