On 13 December the UKBA published revised new guidance for Tier 4 sponsors. The new guidance included clarifications and amendments, some of which the Penningtons team are currently liaising with the UKBA on to obtain further clarification. The two main changes impact the way in which sponsors monitor and report attendance and the courses which can be offered to Tier 4 students and these are explained below.
The UKBA confirms in the new guidance that all sponsors must continually monitor student attendance and identify when a student has missed ten consecutive contacts (para 541). The guidance goes on to say (para 546) that the UKBA no longer asks that sponsors report the exceptional cases where a student has missed ten consecutive contacts but sponsorship is not withdrawn. Please note however, that the guidance also states that the UKBA expects cases where students have missed ten consecutive contacts and sponsorship is not withdrawn to be rare.
The new guidance appears to have narrowed the definition of a pre-sessional course. Para 413 of the current guidance states that the UKBA defines a pre-sessional course as a preparatory course which directly precedes a student’s intended main course of study in the UK and enables the student to acquire the ancillary skills or knowledge necessary to adjust to study in the UK. Usually this will be supplementary English language, training or some instruction in the British education system. Courses which are designed to give a student fundamental training in the subject area as a stepping stone to higher study – e.g. a foundation degree – or courses which form an integral part of the main course of study but which are administered separately, will not be considered as pre-sessionals.
We are aware that numerous educational providers provide pre-sessional courses to prepare students for their main course of study. These courses often do relate to the main course but may no longer fit the UKBA’s current definition of pre-sessional courses. Penningtons have sought urgent clarification from the UKBA and will update sponsors once a response has been received.