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Higher Education Providers - Tier 4 privileges for FE colleges and private providers

  • United Kingdom
  • Education - Briefings


English Institutions with HE provision

From 1 August 2019, English institutions with HE provision who meet the definition of a Higher Education Provider, must have registered with the Office for Students (“OfS”) if they wish to become, or wish to continue as, a Tier 4 sponsor. The OfS registration is necessary in order to obtain the Educational Oversight required to operate within Tier 4.

If any institutions fail to apply to the OfS, or do not gain the required OfS registration before 1 August 2019, they will no longer have Educational Oversight from that date. Consequently, they will no longer be able to offer their HE provision to Tier 4 students and will be in serious breach of their Tier 4 sponsor obligations. There are currently transitional arrangements in place and so in order to be registered by 1 Aug 2019, an institution must have applied to the OfS by 15 May 2019.

Once registered with the OfS, an institution providing Higher Education provision is eligible to gain ‘full privileges’ for their Tier 4 students in respect of whom a CAS has been assigned after 1 August 2019. These privileges include the ability for students to:

· have permission to work for a certain number of hours per week;

· have the ability to be granted further Tier 4 leave from within the UK; and

· have the ability to bring dependants to the UK.

This clearly presents great benefits to students coming to study under Tier 4 with a Higher Education Provider and can present a useful recruitment tool in attracting international students.

It should be noted that the full privileges will not automatically be granted to Colleges and Private Providers of Higher Education courses. Prior to these additional privileges for Tier 4 students being granted, the sponsor must show that it has met the core eligibility requirements by demonstrating a track record of immigration compliance and educational oversight, including having passed the Basic Compliance Assessment for four consecutive years.

For those institutions that meet these requirements, they should expect a visit from UKVI who, we are informed, will come out to inspect the institution to ensure that their Tier 4 immigration practices are fully compliant, prior to the full privileges being granted.

What is the situation in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland?

Despite there being no requirement for educational providers in the Devolved Administrations to register with the OfS, a recent update to the Home Office guidance document for Tier 4 sponsors, Document 4: Higher Education regulatory reform, has extended the ability of FE institutions with a Higher Education provision in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland which have established a track record of compliance to gain the full privileges of Tier 4, provided they meet the requirements.

We have a team of immigration specialists dedicated to the education sector who can assist your institution in preparing for such an inspection and in ensuring Tier 4 student privileges are gained.

Should you wish to discuss this further please do not hesitate to contact us