Circular 3/2020: Examinations conducted by SANC

28 January 2020


TO: National Department of Health
  Provincial Departments of Health
  Nursing Education Institutions (NEIs)
  All Stakeholders

Examinations conducted by the South African Nursing Council


The purpose of this Circular is to inform/update the National Department of Health, Provincial Departments of Health, Nursing Education Institutions and relevant stakeholders about the following:

Current and future examination practices of the South African Nursing Council (SANC);
Language to be utilized for all South African Nursing Council examinations.


 The South Africa Nursing Council has been conducting examinations and appointing examiners and moderators in accordance with section 4 (1) (c) of the Nursing Act, 2005 (Act No. 33 of 2005).

These examinations have been conducted for the following ‘legacy’ nursing programmes:

First year examination for the Bridging Course for Enrolled Nurses leading to registration as a General or Psychiatric Nurse, in line with Government Notice No. R.683 of 14 April 1989 (as amended);
Final examination for the Bridging Course for Enrolled Nurses leading to registration as a General or Psychiatric Nurse, in line with Government Notice No. R.683 of 14 April 1989 (as amended);
Examination for the course leading to registration as a Midwife, in line with Government Notice No. R.254 of 14 February 1975 (as amended);
Final examination for the course leading to registration as a Psychiatric Nurse, in line with Government Notice No. R.880 of 02 May 1975 (as amended); and
Examination for the Diploma Course in Clinical Nursing Science, Health Assessment, Treatment and Care, in line with Government Notice No. R.48 of 22 January 1982 (as amended).
Admission examination for foreign applicants for the following:

o Enrolment as a Nursing Auxiliary;
o Enrolment as a Nurse; and
o Registration as a Nurse.

2.2 From 2024 onwards the SANC will no longer be conducting summative examinations for the above nursing programmes.

2.3 The last date for each examination listed above will be communicated by the end of March 2020.



The Minister of Higher Education and Training has, in line with the provisions of the Higher Education Act, 1997 (Act No. 101 of 1997) declared that the last date for first time entering learners enrolling in academic programmes that are not aligned to the Higher Education Qualifications Sub-framework (HEQSF) is 31 December 2019. 
Subsequent to this date, NEIs that are offering nursing programmes towards the HEQSF-aligned nursing qualifications are either registered as higher education institutions (HEIs) if private; or if public, either declared as HEIs or designated to offer Certificates, Diplomas and Degrees in Nursing, which are accredited and registered on the HEQSF.
The implication of this transition calls for a review of the SANC’s role in assessment. In light thereof, the Council resolved at its meeting held on 26-27 March 2014 that policy guidelines as well as an implementation plan would be developed to embark on a new way of assessment as a pre-requisite for professional registration.
The SANC is in the process of introducing Licensure examination, which will be a nationwide examination for the licensing of nurses. Licensure examination would also serve as a prerequisite for professional registration with the SANC.
The examination will be undertaken by students who have successfully completed education and training for the prescribed nursing programme(s) and have been awarded the relevant qualification(s). 
Benchmarking on the Licensure examination was conducted with other regulatory bodies for nurses. The SANC is currently in the process of arranging a workshop on practice analysis in order to link the licensure examination to practice, the findings of which would contribute towards finalizing the framework, which will be workshopped with all stakeholders for their input prior to final approval.



The NEIs, in particular public nursing colleges and private nursing schools, are aware that the summative examination conducted by the SANC was conducted in both English and Afrikaans, with the exception of the Admission examination for foreign applicants, which was conducted in English only.
Subsequent to the introduction of a new democratic dispensation in South Africa, eleven (11) languages were granted official status, as per section 6 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (Act No.108 of 1996).
After due consideration of the impracticalities of the status quo, the Council has resolved at its special meeting of 05 November 2019 that the summative examinations would henceforth be conducted in English only, with effect from the May 2020 examinations.

4.1 Implications:

4.1.1 The question papers are going to be in the English language only;
4.1.2 Candidates would be expected to use English when writing the examinations;
4.1.3 Should any other language besides English be used when writing an examination, such scripts will not be marked; and 
4.1.4 It is the responsibility of the NEIs to draw the attention of learners to the content of this Circular.



This Circular becomes implementable and valid on the date of issue.


For further information in respect of this Circular, you are advised to contact Ms SJ Nxumalo, SANC Senior Manager: Education &Training at (012) 420 1022 or on e-mail at: 


Kind regards


Ms SA Mchunu
Registrar and CEO
South African Nursing Council