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UK Visas and Immigration extends Tier 4 visa pilot for international Masters students

Date of Publication: 
19 December 2017

Pilot scheme which streamlines visa application process now extended to 23 further universities

UK Visas and Immigration extends Tier 4 visa pilot for international Masters students

19 December 2017

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) announced yesterday that a pilot scheme which streamlines the process for international Masters students wanting to study in the UK has been extended to an additional 23 universities.

According to UKVI, the pilot makes the Tier 4 visa application process easier for international students undertaking a Masters course of 13 months or less in the UK. It also provides greater support for students who wish to switch to a work visa and take up a graduate role, by allowing them to remain in the UK for 6 months after they have finished their course.

Times Higher Education noted that the scheme attracted criticism when it was launched in July 2016 because it involved just four highly selective institutions in the south of England: the universities of Bath, Cambridge and Oxford, plus Imperial College London.

The following 23 universities will now join the scheme and will be able to apply the pilot to their 2018/19 intake: University of Bristol; Cardiff University; Durham University; University of East Anglia; University of Edinburgh; University of Essex; University of Exeter; University of Glasgow; Goldsmiths, University of London; Harper Adams University; University of Leicester; University of Liverpool; University of Manchester; Newcastle University; University of Nottingham; Queen's University Belfast; University of Reading; Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London; University of Sheffield; University of Southampton; University of Wales Trinity Saint David (Swansea campus); University of Warwick; and the University of York.

Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis said: "I am delighted to announce the expansion of this pilot which is part of our ongoing activity to ensure that our world-leading institutions remain highly competitive.

"The UK continues to be the 2nd most popular destination for international students and the number coming to study at our universities has increased by 24% since 2010.

"This is a clear indication that genuine students are welcome and there is no limit on the number who can come to study in the UK."

According to UKVI, universities taking part in the pilot are given responsibility for eligibility checks, meaning that students can submit fewer documents than required in the current process alongside their visa applications.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Sheffield and founder of the UK-wide #WeAreInternational campaign said: "International students are crucial not only to UK scholarship and teaching, but they play a huge role in the life and economy of towns and cities right across the UK. The extension of the Tier 4 Visa Pilot is therefore very welcome for all those universities and students who will benefit from it. I also hope that the experience of extending the pilot will give the UK the assurance it needs to further extend the pilot into mainstream policy for the good of the many talented students from around the world who wish to study in the UK."

"We do however know that more needs to be done. The #WeAreInternational campaign will continue to work with universities up and down the country, as well as businesses and the National Union of Students, to make sure the value of international students is fully reflected in all aspects of government policy and that we can increase opportunities for talented international graduates to remain in the UK for a period of work experience once they complete their studies. This will bring us in line with the experience in many other countries and the needs of our own economy."