Following on from our series of blog posts last week on key provisions in the UKBA's policy guidance for Tier 4 sponsors, we begin this week with a closer look at the sections of the guidance relating to place of studies and work placements.

The guidance provides that except when a student is on a work placement, all study that is part of the course must take place on the sponsor's premises or at a temporary location authorised by the sponsor. The UKBA gives the example of a field trip as a temporary location although there are likely to be other examples that would fall within this category. The student must therefore undertake their course at a location under the control of a Tier 4 sponsor, such as on the main campus or at another premises owned, leased or otherwise licensed to the Tier 4 sponsor. Sponsors need to take steps to ensure that students are taught at appropriate locations, especially when students are being taught at branch or partner institutions.

Under the UKBA's guidance, students are permitted to undertake work placements as part of their courses, provided that the work placement meets the UKBA's requirements in that regard. The course of study for overseas students may include a work placement if it is an integral and assessed part of the course, but it must not be more than 33% of the total length of the course in the UK. There are certain limited exceptions to the 33% rule, including where the course is at NQF/QCF 6 or SCQF 9 or above and comprises studies at a higher education institution. In those circumstances, as set out in the guidance, the placement must not be more than 50% of the total length of the course.

Whilst a student is on a work placement, the sponsor remains responsible for the student and must continue to comply with all of the sponsor duties within that period, Sponsors must therefore take steps to ensure that they have the necessary systems and arrangements in place to ensure that relevant information is passed quickly from the placement provider to the sponsor in the event that something happens to give potential cause for concern, or indeed, trigger a reporting requirement to the UKBA, for example, if a student stops attending a work placement.

Sponsors are required to keep the UKBA appraised of where a student is studying or undertaking a work placement. In the event of a change of location, UKBA must be informed within 10 working days of the change taking place in order for it to update its records accordingly.