The Minister of State for Immigration James Brokenshire announced to the House of Commons on Monday 13 July 2015 significant changes to the student visa system.

The Minister has made the changes to “reduce net migration and tackle immigration abuse, whilst ensuring we maintain an excellent offer for students who wish to study at our world class universities

The changes will come as a disappointment to Further Education Colleges who recently met through the Association of Colleges with Bernard Evans (Head of PBS Sponsorship) and voiced their concerns that a two tier system was being developed with Colleges expected to work within a far tougher legislative environment.

The measures to be introduced this year affecting Colleges include:

  1. Preventing new students at publicly funded colleges from working in the UK whilst studying under a Tier 4 visa;
  2. From the autumn, preventing students at colleges from extending their visas or switching to a work visa, unless the student is studying at an institution linked to a HEI and will progress to study at that HEI;
  3. Reducing the length of time a Tier 4 (General) Student may study at a Further Education institution from 3 years to 2 years;
  4. Removing the ability of students sponsored under Tier 4 (Child) to study on foundation courses.

Other measures affecting Tier 4 sponsors are:

  1. University students will only be permitted to extend their studies at the same academic level if the course is linked to their previous course or if the University confirms the course supports the students career aspirations. Applicants applying to complete a PHD or other doctoral qualification may continue to study at the same level;
  2. Maintenance requirements are changing for students starting courses from September 2015, with an increase to the levels of maintenance, an introduction of a maximum amount that can be offset against accommodation and the removal of the established presence rule which previously allowed students to show a reduced level of maintenance;
  3. Changing the time limit requirements so that the full length of leave granted is used to calculate the limit rather than the length of study;
  4. Tier 4 visas will be issued based on the students intended date of travel to better align the visa with the BRP.

Other smaller changes are also being made and a further briefing will follow once the Tier 4 Sponsor Guidance has been updated.