In the latest of a series of changes to the Tier 4 policy requirements, the Government announced yesterday (29 July) a "new crackdown on immigration abuses", which includes "tougher rules will be imposed on universities and colleges who sponsor international students to study in the UK."

The change will take the form of an amendment to the criteria with which all institutions must comply to attain or preserve Highly Trusted Sponsor status ("HTS").

Currently, amongst the Tier 4 HTS criteria, there is a requirement that the "refusal rate" of those students issued by an institution with Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (or "CAS") whose visa applications are subsequently declined by UKVI must be less than 20%.

From November 2014, the relevant percentage for refusal rates will be halved to10%.

The Government has indicated that institutions should use the next three months as a transitional period within which they should "re-examine their admissions procedures before offering individuals places".  Given the importance of retaining HTS to many institutions, this is a policy development which should be considered carefully.