The role of visa sponsors
The UK immigration system is managed by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), part of the Home Office. It is known as the points-based system for immigration.
Many of the categories require the migrant to have a sponsor, such as an employer or education institution. The migrant’s visa is tied to that particular sponsor. The University of Bath is one such sponsor.
The University therefore has various responsibilities and must hold a licence for any visa category under which we wish to sponsor migrants. Without a licence, we are not able to recruit staff or students from overseas.
Students with visas
Most students on full-time degree programmes will need a Student visa.
Visa holding students who wish to undertake part-time study at RQF level 7 or above (postgraduate master's degrees and doctoral programmes) in the UK for more than six months, other than by distance learning, must apply for a part-time Student visa. There are various restrictions to the part-time Student visa, and a student on a part-time Student visa is not allowed to work (including undertaking placements) nor bring dependants with them to the UK.
Students on programmes of less than 6 months in duration, or those already here as visitors or on exchange, may be able to study on a Standard Visitor visa.
Certain other types of visa also permit study and should be checked with the Student Immigration Service by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sponsoring students with Student visas
In order to recruit international students needing a visa to study in the UK, the University must hold a Student visa sponsor licence. This requires us to sponsor all our students on Student visas, and we have a range of monitoring and reporting duties for them.
As a sponsor, we are also required to make sure that all our students have valid permission to be in the UK.
The University's responsibility for students with Student visas begins as soon as we issue them a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS), which allows them to apply for the visa. Our responsibility ends if any of the following happen:
- they leave the UK following completion of their course
- their visa expires
- we report to the Home Office that we have stopped sponsoring them
- they switch sponsor or immigration category
Complying with the Student visa requirements
If the University does not meet the sponsor requirements set by the Home Office, it will lose its sponsor licence. This would mean that the University would be unable to recruit any students from outside the UK who need a visa to study in the UK.
As well as ongoing checks to make sure of compliance and annual renewal processes, the University is subject to audit by the Home Office at any point.
Checking if a student is on a Student visa
On the STU screen in SAMIS, the 'report to UKVI' box will be ticked if the student is on a Student visa. Alternatively, you can ask the Student Immigration Service for a list of visa-holding students. This list changes regularly and therefore the report must be refreshed on a regular basis.
Student visas and work placements or study abroad years
Students with a Student visa are required to be monitored by the University, to ensure compliance with our Student visa sponsor licence. This includes students with a Student visa whose course includes an integrated work placement or study abroad year.
Student visa requirements for teaching partnerships
There are additional considerations for Student visa holding doctoral students studying at multiple sites as part of a Doctoral Training Partnership.
Undertaking a period of research at another institution, e.g. to work with a second supervisor based elsewhere
Student-visa holding students can conduct short periods of research at another institution. This is allowed under the 'temporary authorised location' rule. If a student is studying elsewhere, the University must still meet the attendance monitoring requirements. The Student Immigration Service will still request information from supervisors about their engagement with their research.
The University of Bath can accept students sponsored by another institution for short periods of research. The Student Immigration Service needs confirmation in writing that the institution will still sponsor the student for their Student visa.
Undertaking periods of taught study at another institution
Taught study is not permitted under the ‘temporary authorised location’ rule. Any study that includes classroom teaching is considered taught study.
If a Centre for Doctoral Training requires students to complete taught study at another institution, this is considered to be a ‘teaching partnership’. In order to create a teaching partnership there must be a contractual signed agreement between institutions. The agreement must include the following information:
agreement to teach students in the manner specified
the course(s) being delivered
the location of delivery
the qualification awarded upon completion
the education provider delivering the teaching
the length of the agreement
The following requirements must also be met:
the institutions must add each other to their respective Student visa licences
the institution teaching the majority of the course (i.e. over half) must sponsor the student. If teaching is equally shared, institutions must decide which will sponsor all the students being taught that course under the partnership. The Student visa sponsor must name the other institutions’ names, addresses and sponsor licence numbers on the CAS
the Student visa sponsor must meet its sponsorship duties in respect of students it would like to teach under the partnership
Considerations for CDTs before making an offer to a Student visa student:
Will there be taught elements at other institutions? If so, are those institutions on our Student sponsor licence? Currently, the institutions on our licence are Bristol, Exeter, Cardiff, Loughborough, Plymouth and the University of the West of England. It can take several months to add an institution to our licence. To do this, the University must send the signed agreements to the Home Office.
Is there a signed agreement? It can take a long time to get an agreement signed by all institutions.
If we are the Student sponsor for a student, can we meet our engagement monitoring requirements whilst the student is being taught elsewhere?
Important: we cannot issue a CAS for a sponsored student on a CDT programme involving teaching at another institution unless the institution is on our Student sponsor licence and there is a signed agreement. Without a CAS, the student cannot get a Student visa.
Staff with visas
To recruit staff from overseas, the University is also a sponsor for the appropriate work routes, which is managed by HR.
Inviting PhD students or staff to visit
If you are a member of staff, you should not issue any form of communication inviting someone to visit from outside the UK, as this may result in the individual being issued the wrong visa.
If you would like to invite a PhD student to visit, please contact the Doctoral College who can advise you further.
For all other academic staff, please email HR.
Contacting the Student Immigration Service
There are several circumstances in which you may need to contact the Student Immigration Service. This could be because you are looking to make changes to your programme, for example, or have been approached by a student who is looking to make changes. If this student is a visa holder, any course changes could have significant consequences for their immigration status.