The Academic Engagement Monitoring Policy for Student and Tier 4 visa holders 2021/22 has now been published.

Students and staff are expected to familiarise themselves with the content of the policy, which takes effect from 28 September 2021, and with its relevant implementation process.

The Student Immigration Service (SIS) has devised a comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions guide which students and staff may find useful. The guide will be updated regularly.

The academic engagement monitoring policy has been designed to ensure that any potential welfare issues, which may be indicated by poor attendance or poor engagement, are identified promptly so that appropriate support can be provided. It was devised in line with UKVI requirements and current Covid-19 concessions.

Key changes

Remote studying is not normally permitted on a Student or Tier 4 visa and students holding these visas are expected to be in the UK and attend on-campus sessions as soon as their course starts, including attending study or lab sessions in person.

Accordingly, undergraduate and postgraduate taught students (including students in the first year of an Integrated PhD) in 2021/22 will be monitored through a combination of online and physical engagement points, evidencing both genuine online academic engagement and physical attendance.

Students who are not able to come to the UK for the start of their course due to Covid-19 reasons are permitted under current UKVI concessions to study online until their circumstances allow them to do so (and by 6 April 2022 at the latest). Their academic engagement will be monitored fully online until they are able to arrive in the UK, when they are expected to be present on campus and will be monitored accordingly.

Key points about the new policy

  • Light-touch physical attendance will be re-introduced for taught students to meet UKVI requirements and to mirror the University's learning format.

  • Alongside the monitoring of physical attendance, online academic engagement will also be monitored.

  • During term-time, students on taught courses (undergraduate students, postgraduate taught students and students in the first year of an Integrated PhD programme) will be required to meet a minimum of one engagement point per week (this may be an online or a physical engagement point). They will also be required to meet a minimum of two physical engagement points per month.

  • Online engagement points will include Moodle coursework submissions, Panopto lecture attendance (minimum of 50-minute continuous viewing) and Teams meetings attendance.

  • Physical attendance will be monitored through the use of the SafeZone app.

  • Taught students who are unable to meet the physical engagement points because they are studying remotely from outside of the UK (at the start of the academic year only) will still be required to meet the weekly online engagement points.

  • Doctoral students will continue to be monitored through meetings with their supervisors and progress reports. They will continue to be expected to meet further engagement points through regular email correspondence with the Student Immigration Service.

  • Students on placement, fieldwork or study abroad programme will continue to be subject to alternative electronic engagement points monitored by the Student Immigration Service.

  • It is important to note that, if a student stops engaging with their remote studying for more than 30 days after SIS contacts them for lack of engagement, we are required to withdraw sponsorship of their Student / Tier 4 visa. For students in the UK, sponsorship withdrawal is required following a lack of academic engagement of 60 days. Robust processes are in place at the University of Bath to ensure lack of engagement is identified early and students have time to re-engage before the University is required to withdraw sponsorship.

The SafeZone app

The University of Bath’s SafeZone app is free to download for students. It is already used across the University to support emergency messaging and can help with Covid-19 contact tracing. Its use has been expanded to allow taught students to evidence academic engagement through physical attendance at teaching / study sessions (including lab, studio, workshops, etc.).

In order that students meet their physical engagement points, they are required to

  • check-in using the app at the start of their study session
  • check-out using the app at the end of their study session
  • meet a minimum of 50-minute continuous attendance at their study session.

The minimum continuous 50-minute recording of physical attendance is based on the standard pattern of teaching, where an average of 50 minutes of teaching takes place within an hour-long booked slot.

Students experiencing technical issues with the SafeZone app may log in a ticket on TopDesk with the University's Digital, Data & Technology Group (DD&T).

Staff engagement

Alternative engagement points must be agreed between the department and the Student Immigration Service for specific groups of students if the standard online engagement points do not apply to them (e.g. if students will not be using Moodle, Teams meetings or Panopto). Please liaise with the Student Immigration Service as soon as possible, to ensure appropriate arrangements are in place before teaching starts.

The Student Immigration Service will monitor Student / Tier 4 visa holders’ overall engagement, however the primary responsibility for monitoring student attendance and engagement lies with academic departments and all staff need to be mindful of this.

The University is required to meet strict reporting deadlines by the Home Office, and also needs an audit trail where a potential problem is identified. The cooperation of all staff is required to ensure that the University remains compliant with its duties as a Sponsor.

Student engagement

All students on a Student / Tier 4 visa are required to meet the engagement monitoring requirements attached to their visa and need to familiarise themselves with the policy. The Student Immigration Service will contact students with more detail, however the responsibility to abide by the academic engagement monitoring policy ultimately lies with each student.