Tier 4, the student tier of the Points Based System (PBS), was introduced on 31 March 2009 and was the culmination of the extensive changes to the immigration system first announced in 2004. Before introducing these changes, we consulted widely and in July 2005 published a consultation document: "Selective Admission: Making Migration Work for Britain"; this consultation ran for an extended period until November 2005.
The Joint Education Taskforce (JET) is the UK Border Agency's principal mechanism for consultation with the education sector. The JET was also established in 2005 and comprises senior figures and representative bodies from all parts of the education sector and it and its sub-groups continue to meet on a regular basis. In July 2008 we published "Students under the Points Based System—(Tier 4) Statement of Intent". While this was not a further consultation, we welcomed comments from stakeholders affected by the changes proposed which were incorporated where appropriate. Both documents are available in the House Library.
[holding answer 19 June 2009]: The UK Border Agency currently employs 125 staff nationally to conduct visits to sponsors and prospective sponsors under the Points Based System which includes Tier 4.
All visiting staff receive ongoing training and development on and off the job to enable them to carry out their duties in a professional and effective manner.
[holding answer 22 June 2009]: Policy guidance on Tier 4 policy, which expands on the immigration rules provides the evidential requirements a migrant must meet is published, as is the Points Based Sponsor guidance which provides the evidential requirements a sponsor must meet. These documents are on the UK Border Agency website.
The Tier 4 caseworking instructions, which provide step by step process instructions to assessing officers as to how to physically consider an application, are currently being considered for publication.
[holding answer 22 June 2009]: The requirement for certified translations of all documents does not appear so far to have had a significant effect on application rates. However, as Tier 4 of the Points Based System was only introduced on 31 March 2009, it is too early to draw any definitive conclusions.
Students under Tier 4 of the Points Based System may undertake a work placement as part of their course, as long as it is an assessed part of the course and the work placement does not equate to more than 50 per cent. of the length of the course in the United Kingdom. In addition, students can undertake a work placement where their course includes a legal (statutory) requirement for this.
All academic institutions have their own procedures in place to be able to monitor their students' attendance both to ensure their continued progress on a course but also to fulfil their duty of care. The reporting requirements placed on institutions as part of their sponsor duties under Tier 4 are sufficiently robust to ensure that students who are no longer attending are reported to the UK Border Agency, while also being sufficiently flexible to allow for the different ways in which institutions monitor student attendance.