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Education Immigration e-briefing – Updated Tier 4 Guidance, January 2018

  • United Kingdom
  • Education - Briefings


The Home Office has now published its new Tier 4 Guidance following the Statement of Changes released in December 2017 (see our briefing on the Statement of Changes here). The updated Guidance is effective from 11 January 2018 and includes a number of additional amendments and clarifications which may be noteworthy for Tier 4 sponsors.

Part time study

As set out in the Statement of Changes, students can in certain circumstances now be offered part-time courses under Tier 4. The Guidance clarifies however that only HEIs will be able to offer part-time study and the course must be above degree level, leading to a UK-recognised qualification at level 7 or above on the RQF. All such part-time courses must also have a full-time equivalent course, which leads to the same award but in a shorter period of time, in order to be recognised by the Home Office.

As expected, the Guidance also confirms that Tier 4 students studying part-time will not be able to work, bring dependants or extend their visa in-country.

Sites and Partnerships

A new type of teaching partnership arrangement has been added to the updated Guidance. A HEI is now able to partner with a research institute to teach research-based courses to Tier 4 Master’s or PhD students.

The research institute is not required to hold its own Tier 4 licence, though it must either be:

• listed as in receipt of Research Council UK grant funding, or

• listed as a research institute with which the Research Councils have established a long-term involvement as a major funder and eligible to receive research funding.

The HEI will be responsible for sponsoring the student, though if the student will be based at the research institute for more than 50% of the course, the HEI must give the research institute as the main study address on the CAS. However, the HEI will remain responsible for monitoring the student’s attendance and complying with its other reporting requirements.

Study Abroad

The Tier 4 Sponsor reporting requirements have been extended to include all students on a study abroad programme overseas that is part of their course. Institutions are now required to continue monitoring their Tier 4 students, even when they are out of the country. This will apply unless the sponsor decides to end sponsorship during the study abroad period. However, if the student will be returning to the UK to complete their course, sponsorship should continue throughout.

This may provide an extra burden for institutions and strong working relationships with the overseas HEI will be required.

If you would like any further information regarding any of the changes to Tier 4 of the points based system, or advice on any aspects of the Tier 4 sponsorship regime, please contact us.