Changes to the Tier 4 Scheme for Sponsors
Update for Tier 4 sponsors: educational oversight and other changes
10 January 2012
All current Tier 4 sponsors, if they are not already subject to inspection or review by 1 of the designated educational oversight bodies, must apply to the appropriate body by the relevant deadline as detailed in the current sponsor guidance. These inspections and reviews will take place throughout 2012, and the results of each inspection or review will be published on the website of the appropriate educational oversight body.
A failure to achieve a satisfactory inspection outcome from the appropriate body has implications for the sponsor's ability to sponsor international students under Tier 4 of the points-based system. Further information about what amounts to satisfactory accreditation and the consequences of failing to meet that standard is provided below.
The designated educational oversight bodies covered by this announcement are:
- Quality Assurance Agency offers educational oversight for privately funded higher education providers and pre-sessional providers throughout the UK;
- Independent Schools Inspectorate offers educational oversight for privately funded further education providers and English language schools in England and Wales;
- Bridge Schools Inspectorate offers educational oversight for privately funded further education colleges in England and Wales with a clear religious purpose;
- School Inspection Service offers educational oversight for privately funded further education Montessori and Steiner providers in England and Wales;
- Education Scotland offers educational oversight for privately funded further education colleges and English language schools in Scotland;
- The Education and Training Inspectorate offers educational oversight for privately funded further education colleges and English language schools in Northern Ireland.
|Name of education oversight body||Inspection /review outcomes for privately funded providers|
|Outcomes indicating satisfactory inspection/review for Tier 4 purposes||Outcomes indicating follow-up inspection/review is required for Tier 4 purposes||Outcomes indicating inspection/review failure for Tier 4 purposes|
|Quality Assurance Agency||Confidence judgements in management of academic standards and the quality of learning opportunities, and a conclusion of reliance can be placed on the accuracy and completeness of public information.||Limited confidence judgement in either management of academic standards or the quality of learning opportunities or reliance cannot be placed on the accuracy and completeness of all public information.||No confidence judgement in either the management of academic standards and the quality of learning opportunities.|
|Independent Schools Inspectorate||Meets expectations/ exceeds expectations.||Needs improvement.||Unsatisfactory.|
|Bridge Schools Inspectorate||Fully meets all the BSI standards.||Meets nearly all of the BSI standards, but there are shortfalls in respect of some of the standards that need to be remedied.||Fails to meet enough of the BSI standards.|
|School Inspection Service||Meets.||Almost meets, with partial re-inspection required.||Does not meet.|
|Education Scotland||Effective.||Partially effective.||Not effective.|
|Education and Training Inspectorate||Satisfactory/good.||Inadequate.||Unsatisfactory.|
For sponsors currently subject to the interim limit, the UK Border Agency will take the following actions based on the outcomes of inspections set out above:
- If the college achieves a satisfactory inspection or review for Tier 4 purposes and the college has also obtained highly trusted sponsor status, it will no longer be subject to the interim limit.
- If the college does not receive a satisfactory outcome for Tier 4 purposes, but the report indicates that follow-up action is required, then the college will remain subject to the interim limit and further action will be required from the college as specified in the report. It will be for the relevant body to confirm whether the college has met the standard within a specified timescale.
- If the college fails the inspection or review for Tier 4 purposes, at the initial stage or following further action, then the college will become a legacy sponsor, and therefore they will be unable to sponsor new international students.
Further changes from April 2012
From April 2012, the following changes will also be made, as previously indicated in the statement of intent published on 31 March 2011:
- Work placements - these will be restricted to one-third of the course, unless the course is at degree level and the sponsor is a higher education institution or the student is on a study abroad programme.
- Time limits in Tier 4 - we will limit the time students can spend at degree level to 5 years, with certain exemptions for longer courses and doctorates at higher education institutions.
- Tier 1 Post-study work - this will be closed from April 2012, however we will retain a route into sponsored graduate employment through Tier 2 of the points-based system.
Further details of these changes will be announced in due course.