General information for staff about student visas
This guide will help you to understand various different tiers, or categories, of immigration depending on the reason why the migrant wishes to come to the UK.
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 tiers 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 tiers 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 Tier 4 student visa.
Tier 4 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 Tier 4 visa. There are various restrictions to the part-time Tier 4 visa, and a student on a part-time Tier 4 visa is not allowed to work (including undertaking placements) nor bring dependants with them to the UK.
Students on short programmes like English courses, or those already here as visitors or on exchange, may be able to study on a short-term study visa.
Certain other types of visa also permit study and should be checked with the Student Immigration Service by emailing email@example.com.
Sponsoring students with Tier 4 visas
In order to recruit international students needing a visa to study in the UK, the University must hold a Tier 4 sponsor licence. This requires us to sponsor all our students on Tier 4 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 Tier 4 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 Tier 4 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 EEA 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 Tier 4 visa
On the STU screen in SAMIS, the 'report to UKVI' box will be ticked if the student is on a Tier 4 visa. Alternatively, you can ask the Student Immigration Service for a list of Tier 4 students. This list changes regularly and therefore the report must be refreshed on a regular basis.
Tier 4 requirements for teaching partnerships
There are additional considerations for Tier 4 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
Tier 4 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 contact points.
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 Tier 4 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 partnerships 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 Tier 4 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 Tier 4 sponsor must name the other institutions’ names, addresses and sponsor licence number on the CAS.
The Tier 4 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 Tier 4 student:
Will there be taught elements at other institutions? If so, are those institutions on our Tier 4 licence? From January 2018, the institutions on our licence are Bristol, Exeter, Cardiff and Loughborough. It can take several months to add an institution to our Tier 4 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 Tier 4 sponsor for a student, can we meet our attendance monitoring requirements whilst the student is being taught elsewhere?
Important: we cannot issue a CAS for a Tier 4 student on a CDT programme involving teaching at another institution unless the institution is on our Tier 4 licence and there is a signed agreement. Without a CAS, the student cannot get a Tier 4 visa.
Staff with visas
To recruit staff from overseas, the University is also a Tier 2 and Tier 5 sponsor, which is managed by 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.