Changing Your Programme Of Study

If you are studying on a Tier 4 visa, there are certain requirements you must meet before being permitted to change your programme of study and still remain on your current visa.

UKVI have introduced new rules for Tier 4 students regarding changing programme of study. These rules came into effect on the 6th April 2016.

The new rules state that a Tier 4 (General) student may only change course with the same sponsor, without first applying to UKVI for a new visa, if:

  • the sponsor is an HEI with Tier 4 Sponsor status;
  • the course is at degree level or above and not at a lower level than the previous course;
  • the new course can be completed within the period of leave they currently hold; and
  • if the applicant has previously been granted Tier 4 leave, the sponsor confirms that the course is related to the previous course, or the previous course and the new course in combination support the applicant’s genuine career aspirations.


How will this affect me?

If you wish to change your programme of study and your new course is closely related to your old course, is at the same level, and you can finish your new course within the validity of your current visa then the new rules should not affect you.

If your request does not meet these requirements, you will have to leave the UK in order to apply for a new Tier 4 visa (Entry Clearance) for your new course.  This will mainly affect students whose change of programme will result in the course end date being extended, and subsequently students needing to extend their visa to cover the new course end date.

All requests from Tier 4 students to change their programme will be checked by the University’s Immigration Compliance Unit.  If the request does not meet the requirements you will be informed by a member of the Unit and given further advice.


Does this affect placement, industrial experience, and study abroad programmes?

Yes.  For example, if your current visa was initially granted for a standard 3-year undergraduate degree programme, and you wish to change to a 4-year programme to include an industrial experience placement, or a period of study overseas, then you will be subject to the new change of programme requirements.  You will need to leave the UK and apply for a new visa to cover the full length of the new programme.


When will I need to travel home to apply for my new visa?

If your current visa was issued before 06/04/2016, and you need to travel home to apply for your new visa, you can do this at any point between your change of programme being approved, and when your current visa expires.  However you should NOT return home during a period of study or during a period that will affect your studies.  You should do this at a time that will not affect your studies, for example during the summer vacation period.

If your current visa was issued on or after 06/04/2016 and you need to travel home to apply for your new visa, you must do so before you begin the course to which you are transferring.


What shall I do next?

If you do not meet the requirements outlined above and so you need to return home to apply for a new visa, it is very important that you firstly seek advice. You should contact the International Student Support Office (ISSO) in the Forum by emailing sid@exeter.ac.uk or by visiting the SID desk in the Forum and ask to speak to a member of ISSO.

If you are considering changing your programme but have not yet submitted a request, and you wish to find out if you meet the requirements or need further advice on the immigration implications of changing your programme, you should contact ISSO by emailing sid@exeter.ac.uk or by visiting the SID desk in the Forum and ask to speak to a member of ISSO.