The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has made certain changes to the Immigration Rules affecting migrant students and educational providers which sponsor them under Tier 4 of the points-based system.

As part of these changes, only sponsors who hold a Highly Trusted Sponsor Licence (HTS) can now offer the following courses, known as 'restricted courses', to Tier 4 (General) students:

  • Courses at National Qualifications Framework (NQF) level 3 or equivalent; and
  • Courses below degree level that include a work placement (other than foundation degrees, which can still be offered with a work placement by any Tier 4 (General) sponsor).

Educational providers who hold a standard Tier 4 sponsor licence can only offer courses at or above NQF level 4 or equivalent. Also they cannot offer courses that include work placements unless those courses are degree-level courses or foundation degrees.

Transitional arrangements for education providers

The UK Border Agency has put in place certain transitional arrangements. Publicly funded institutions that were deemed to hold a Highly Trusted Sponsor Licence on 6 April 2010 are now listed as 'Highly Trusted' on the Tier 4 register of sponsors, pending their application for a Highly Trusted Sponsor Licence. If they do not apply by 30 June 2010, they will lose this status and will be unable to access the Highly Trusted sponsor benefits from 1 July 2010. If you are aware that your institution will not need or want to apply for a Highly Trusted Sponsor Licence, please let us know so we may assist you.

Points to consider

If your institution did not qualify for automatic inclusion as a Highly Trusted Sponsor and is currently an A-rated sponsor, you may wish to apply for a Highly Trusted Sponsor Licence. If you make this application by 30 April 2010, you can continue to offer restricted courses until 30 June 2010 or the date when your application is decided, whichever is sooner. If you do not apply for a Highly Trusted Sponsor Licence by 30 April 2010, you will not be able to offer restricted courses to Tier 4 (General) students after 1 May 2010. We are happy to assist current and potential Tier 4 Sponsors in this regard.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.