Both migrants and education providers have been under the new Highly Trusted Sponsor Tier 4 rules of the points-based system since 6 April. The list of Highly Trusted Sponsors has changed daily and will continue to do so.
The changes implemented 6 April follow the Government and UK Border Agency’s review of Tier 4. Now, only sponsors who have Highly Trusted status can offer what the UKBA term restricted courses to student migrants. The following are restricted courses and need a Highly Trusted Sponsor Licence to be run:
- Courses of level 3 under the National Qualifications Framework or equivalent; and
- Work and study courses that are below degree level (foundation degree programmes are excluded).
For the remaining institutions in the UK who hold a standard Tier 4 Sponsor Licence can only offer courses at level 4 of the National Qualifications Framework. They will also not be able to offer any courses that have a work placement element, unless they are at degree level or foundation degrees. You should check to make sure that your institution is on the Highly Trusted Sponsors List.
The reason that foundation degrees are exempt is that they lead to a minimum qualification of level 5 on the National Qualification Framework.
For student migrants who are currently studying a restricted course and their sponsor does not have Highly Trusted status, they will be permitted to remain at that institution until their course is completed or their visa expires, whichever is sooner.
Students wishing to extend their visas and are studying a restricted course, must change to a sponsor who has a Highly Trusted Sponsor licence.