Tier 4 and the University
The University has a number of duties to uphold in order to retain its Tier 4 sponsor license as granted by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). The sponsor licence is what allows the University to effectively admit the majority of non-EEA international students by providing them with the necessary sponsorship to obtain a Tier 4 visa for study in the UK.
The University's Tier 4 sponsor duties are outlined below
University Tier 4 sponsor duties
The University must adhere to the following requirements, as set by UK Visas and Immigration:
- Keep accurate contact details for Tier 4 students.
- Only issue CAS numbers to students who are capable of completing their chosen course.
- Only issue CAS numbers to students who are eligible to complete their course within the time limits permitted on their Tier 4 Visa.
- Retain scanned copies of passports, visas/BRP cards and ATAS certificates for Tier 4 students according to the University record retention schedule.
- Only accept students with a valid Tier 4 visa or valid application for a course at the University of Sheffield, or accept other visa types or applications where these permit study in the UK.
- Monitor students’ attendance and engagement with their academic programme.
- Provide UKVI with the details of any third party, in the UK or another country, which has helped it to recruit students (overseas agents).
Reporting student changes to UKVI
The University also has a requirement to inform UK Visas and Immigration of any Tier 4 student who:
- defers their studies and is no longer actively studying, for instance taking a leave of absence (this is dependent upon the length of the absence)
- breaches any of their Tier 4 visa conditions of stay
- is deemed withdrawn or excluded (including for non-attendance according to UKVI guidance)
- has been refused a visa application
- completes their course earlier than expected
- fails to register within their registration period e.g. non-enrolment or deferral
- changes into a different immigration permission
- commences a work placement or study abroad period
- has a significant change of circumstance (for example a course change)
Any reports to UKVI should be submitted within 10 working days of the change via the UKVI’s Sponsor Management System.
Some reports to UKVI are only for their information and does not affect the student's Tier 4 visa, whereas other reports can result in visa curtailment and a requirement to leave the UK within a certain timeframe. In most cases students are informed when a report is sent to UKVI and provided with immigration advice by central services to explain how this may affect their visa and of any action they need to take.
Changes to the Tier 4 Licence
The University Tier 4 duties also extend to notifying UKVI of certain changes to the institution and keeping up-to-date with other requirements relating to the licence. These include:
- Changes to key personnel
- Change of address or name
- Adding or removing a site, exceptional arrangement or teaching partnership
- Significant financial changes (insolvency, mergers, civil penalties)
- Changes to Education Oversight Body or to the status of any registrations by a governing body
- Pending criminal convictions.
Please note that the University must add any partnerships to its Tier 4 licence where these will include classroom-based teaching and where Tier 4 students will be recruited. For instance the introduction of a new programme delivered in collaboration with another institution may require an application to UKVI to add the partner institution to the University's licence.