Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Doctorate Extension Scheme (Tier 4)

subpage default banner section image

Doctorate Extension Scheme for PhD students (closed to new applications on 1 July 2021)

Frequently asked questions

Please click on the relevant section below to expand the guidance.
  • The Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) was aimed at Tier 4 students about to be awarded their UK PhD at a UK institution. DES has now closed to applications from 1 July 2021. Successful applicants were provided with an additional 12 months of Tier 4 (General) immigration permission to provide them with more time to find work with a Tier 2 employer, set up as an entrepreneur or gain work experience in their field.

  • Your DES visa will usually be valid for 12 months from the 'expected end date' that was put on your previous CAS.

  • As a Tier 4 sponsor, the University has certain requirements that we have to adhere to which are imposed by the Home Office. We will need to have at least two points of contact with you whilst the DES visa is valid to ensure you are adhering to the conditions of this visa. The Compliance team will initiate contact with you. If the University finds you are not meeting the conditions of this visa or you do not respond to the contact we try to make with you we will have to report this to the Home Office who will then curtail your visa and you will be expected to leave the UK.

    Here are some examples of what we would have to report to the Home Office:

    • Confirmation that you have completed your course
    • If you fail your course or are awarded a qualification lower than doctoral level
    • You miss a scheduled contact with us and fail to provide an adequate explanation for doing so
    • The University has reason to believe you are breaching the conditions of your leave
    • You are no longer participating in the scheme
    • The University withdraws its sponsorship
  • You will be regarded as having successfully completed your course on the date that your sponsor formally confirms that your PhD is completed to the standard required for the award of a PhD - the day your degree is conferred. You can then work more than 20 hours a week once your degree is conferred. There will be no restrictions on the type of employment you may take other than as a doctor or dentist in training or a sportsperson, including coaches.

  • A DES visa does not allow you to be employed as a doctor or dentist in training or as a professional sportsperson, including coaches.

    Once you have applied for DES, that is, submitted your DES visa application, and your PhD has been conferred, you have no restriction on the type of work you may do, apart from those mentioned above, or the number of hours you can work per week.

    You are able to work for an employer or be self-employed.

    Whilst holding a valid DES visa, you may switch into a Tier 2 visa (if you find an employer who has given you a job offer and is willing to sponsor your Tier 2 visa), a Start Up visa (if you have established a UK business whilst holding a DES visa or wish to do so, and the University agrees to continue sponsoring your Start Up visa), or other types of visas if eligible. Please see more information on our Visas Portal.

  • When your new visa was issued, in the form of a BRP, it confirmed that you are a Tier 4 (General) student on the Doctoral Extension Scheme and are permitted to work full-time after your course. The conditions of your leave are set out in full in the accompanying approval letter the Home Office will send you.

  • Yes, you are permitted to leave and re-enter the UK at any time during the validity of your leave.

  • The following websites provide useful additional guidance:


    Home Office - Policy Guidance

    Home Office - Employer Checking Service

    Home Office - Tier 4 Online Student Application Form