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Immigration Controls: Educational Institutions

Volume 491: debated on Thursday 23 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many academic advisors the UK Border Agency employs to assess whether students have made sufficient academic progress under the requirements of Tier 4 of the immigration controls established in 2008. (261850)

[holding answer 9 March 2009]: The UK Border Agency does not assess whether students have made sufficient academic progress under the requirements of tier 4 of the points based system (PBS). The education provider, as a licensed sponsor, will be relied upon to make this assessment.

The phased implementation of tier 4 of the points based system commenced on 28 July 2008, when the UK Border Agency started accepting sponsor licence applications from educational institutions that wish to bring students from outside the European economic area to the UK for study. The Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules (HC 314) laid before the House on 9 March 2009 marks the start of the second phase: from 31 March 2009, only UK Border Agency licensed institutions will be able to bring students to the UK, and student applicants will need to meet the tier 4 points test before being granted leave to enter or remain. No student has yet been assessed under tier 4 of the PBS.

UK Border Agency officers are not best-placed to make academic judgments about the ability for a student to carry out a course, that is why under tier 4 we are replacing the current subjective criteria with clear and objective tests. Under tier 4, the education provider, as a licensed sponsor, will be relied upon to make the assessment as to whether a student has made sufficient academic progress. The sponsor may only issue a visa letter to the student if it is satisfied that the student both intends and is able to follow the course of study concerned.