Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Course Change (If you have a Student or Tier 4 Visa)

Section 2: What is meant by 'changing course'?

For the purpose of immigration advice, 'changing course' refers to any time a Student Visa holder ceases studying on the programme for which their current visa was issued and starts a different course of study.

This includes where:

  • you have started a course but are changing to a different course part way through by;
    • adding a year abroad
    • adding a placement year
    • switching to a Qualifying Law degree
    • switching to an Undergraduate Masters
    • switching to an Undergraduate course from an integrated Masters
    • internal upgrade
  • you are required to switch to a lower level course by the University (internal downgrade)
  • you have chosen to exit with a lower qualification
  • you received a CAS/visa for a new course of study by wish to change to different course before coming to the UK

Section 3: Do I need to apply for a new Student Visa?

Whether or not you will need to apply for a new Student Visa depends on your individual circumstances.

You DO need to apply for a new Student Visa for a change of course when:

  • The new course is at the same degree level but longer
  • The new course is the same the degree level and same length but the two courses are NOT related and/or together do not support your genuine career aspiration
  • The new course is at a higher degree level and longer in duration
  • The new course is a lower degree level and you have previously changed course without obtaining a new Student Visa
  • The new course is at a lower degree level and in a different subject

In the following example a new Student Visa would be required as the original and new courses of study are not related and it is unlikely that you could prove how together they would support your career aspirations:

  • You enrolled on a 3-year BA in English & Theatre Studies and wish to change to a 3-year BSc Biological Science

A new Student Visa would also be needed in the following examples as the new course is longer in duration:

  • You enrolled on a 3-year BEng degree and you want to transfer to the 4-year MEng course at the end of Year 2
  • You enrolled on a 3-year BSc in Accounting & Finance and you want to add a Year Abroad
  • You enrolled on a 1-year MSc in Computer Science (leading to PhD) are half way through and want to upgrade to a PhD in Computer Science
  • You are changing from a Master's course (RQF Level 7) to a PhD or other doctoral course (RQF Level 8) via 'internal upgrade' as part of the '1+3 or 2+4 MSc leading to PhD' and you will receive an award for the Master's degree

You will also need to apply for a new Student Visa if either of the following scenarios apply:

  • Your last CAS was issued for the 4-year MEng Computer Systems Engineering (RQF level 7), and you are transferring to the 3-year BSc Computer Science (RQF level 6)
  • Your last CAS was issued for the 4-year MEng Computer Systems Engineering (RQF level 7) and you were previously permitted to transfer to the 4-year MEng Computer Science on the basis that the two courses are related/belong to the same subject area, same level, and same length. You are now transferring again, this time to the 3-year BSc Computer Science (RQF level 6)

You DO NOT need to apply for a new Student Visa for a change of course when:

  • The new course is at the same degree level but shorter in length
  • The new course is at the same degree level and the same length and the two courses are related and/or you can demonstrate how together they support a genuine career aspiration
  • The new course is at a lower degree level but you are still studying on the course your visa was issued for and the the eventual qualification is related to the original course of study
  • You have chosen to, or, are required by Exam Board, to downgrade from an Integrated Masters to the equivalent Bachelors degree, or downgrade from a PhD to MPhil

In each of the following examples there is no requirement to apply for a new Student Visa:

  • You were originally on a 4-year Bachelor's degree course (which includes a year of work placement) but you no longer wish to pursue the work placement year and would like to finish your degree in 3 years
  • You enrolled on a 3-year BA in Politics but now you want to change to a 3-year BA in Politics with Sociology at the end of Year 2 (the two courses are related)
  • Your last CAS was issued for the 4-year MEng Mechanical Engineering (RQF level 7) and you will be transferring to the lower level qualification associated with this integrated degree, 3-year BEng Mechanical Engineering (RQF level 6)
  • Your last CAS was issued for a Chemistry PhD (RQF level 8), and you will be transferring to the Chemistry MPhil (RQF level 7), which was a possible outcome of this programme from the start

Section 4: I need a new Student Visa, when should I apply?

Whether you need to apply for a new Student Visa will depend on your circumstances, in some cases you will need to apply before your course transfer can be actioned.

The Student Records team will contact you after receiving your course transfer request and advise if you need to obtain a new Student Visa before the change of course can be actioned.

You need to apply for a new Student Visa before you are permitted to start your new course if:

  • You are restarting on a completely different course
  • You are switching to a Qualifying Law degree and adding a year
  • You are changing course to a longer course for any reason other than adding a year abroad or work placement
  • The new course is at a higher degree level and longer - you need to have received your new visa before you can choose modules from the new course
  • You are changing from a Master's course (RQF Level 7) to a PhD or other doctoral course (RQF Level 8) via 'internal upgrade' as part of the '1+3 or 2+4 MSc leading to PhD' (this means you will receive an award for the Master's degree) - if inside the UK you need to have submitted your new visa application before you can start the PhD

Section 5: Can I apply for a new Student Visa while inside the UK?

Whether you can apply inside the UK or not will depend on your circumstances; in some cases you may have the option to either apply from the UK or overseas.

You can apply for your new Student Visa inside the UK or from overseas if:

  • You are adding a 'study abroad' or 'work placement' (intercalated) year
    • You should aim to either apply and receive your new visa before you start the study abroad/work placement programme, or, extend your visa after you have completed the study abroad/work placement year AND before your current visa expiry date
  • The new course of study is at a higher degree level and longer in duration

If the following applies to you, then you must apply for your new Student Visa from overseas:

  • You are adding a year in order to obtain a Qualifying Law degree
  • The reason for the course change is anything other than adding a 'study abroad' or 'work placement' year
  • The new course is at a lower degree level and you changed courses previously without being required to obtain a new visa (you are no longer studying the same course for which your last CAS was assigned)
  • The new course is at a lower degree level and the eventual qualification is not the lower award associated with the course you are currently studying

In all the above cases you need to have obtained a new Student Visa, from overseas, before the course transfer can be actioned.

If you are making this kind of course change between academic years, you must act promptly in order to make sure you can obtain your new visa and return to the UK before the start of the Autumn term.

Section 6: Is the Home Office notified if I change my course of study?

Yes. The University is obliged to inform the Home Office of any significant change to sponsored students' circumstances; this includes when a change of course is approved.

At the point that your student record is updated to reflect the course change and new course end date, a report will be made to the Home Office. You will receive an email when this report is made.

If you have switched to a shorter course at the same degree level, after you graduate, a further report will be made to the UKVI to confirm that you have completed your course. This will trigger the eventual curtailment of your student visa as an 'early completion' (as your original visa would be too long).

If you receive email notification about a change of course which you believe to be incorrect, please contact the Immigration Service immediately.

Section 7: Will changing course affect my eligibility for the Graduate Work Route Visa?

To apply to the Graduate Route you must have successfully completed the course of study which was undertaken during your last grant of permission to study on the Student route – in other words, the course for which your most recent CAS was assigned.

This means that you must have achieved the award for which your last Student Visa, sponsored by the University of Warwick, was granted, unless one of the following applies:

  • You have been permitted to change your course of study and did not need to make new visa application (because the new course was at the same level and duration as the original course)
  • You were originally assigned a CAS for a 4-year integrated Masters’ course and chose to complete the 3-year undergraduate course, exiting with a Bachelor’s qualification instead

If you have changed course and obtained a new Student visa you will still be eligible if you exit with the qualification stated on the new CAS used for your most recent Student visa.

If you are transferring to a longer course but spending the additional course length studying outside of the UK (for example, if you are transferring to the Politics Double Degree course) you are not eligible for Student Visa sponsorship during your year abroad and so will not be able to return to the UK with your existing student visa when it expires and apply to the Graduate Work Route.

You will also lose out on the concession policy if your aim is to switch to a Skilled worker visa to work in the UK when you complete your studies. Please check our Skilled Worker webpage for more information.

Section 8: Who do I contact if I need to make a new Student Visa application?

If you decide to make a Student Visa application outside of the UK you should contact Immigration Service and request a CAS about 3 months prior to the date you wish to make your student visa application from your home country. We expect that most students would make their student visa application over the summer vacation (or Christmas/Easter vacation if there is sufficient time for this visa application), and collect their BRP card in the UK at the start of the next term.

Please note that re-starters on a different course are not considered 'change of course' but 'permanently withdrawn' from the previous course and starting a new course afresh.

Please be aware that if the new course is subject to ATAS clearance you must have obtained the ATAS Certificate before you can make the visa application.

When you prepare for your new student visa application, you may need to prepare financial evidence (i.e., outstanding course fees for the current academic year if applying for your visa before the end of Term 1, or, full course fees for the next academic year if applying for your visa after the end of Term 1, plus maintenance of £1023 per month for the remainder of the course to a maximum of 9 months).

Please ensure that you read the information on our website about Applying for a student visa, and request a CAS online in good time.

If you are going to apply for the Student Visa in the UK and have been living in the UK for 12 consecutive months before the visa application you do not need to submit financial evidence (short holidays/absences of fewer than 3 months are unlikely to count).

Section 9: If you have further queries and useful links:

If, after reading the guidance above, and you are still unsure of what you should do next, please contact Student Immigration to discuss your situation via the following methods:




    Please click on the following links for more information


    University of Warwick:


    UK Government:


    Other contacts:

    Page Change Log:

    Page Audit Review:
    Previous Review Date Reviewed By Next Review Date
    13/Mar/2022 ISA: JL 13/Mar/2023
    Page Updates:
    Section Updated Sub Section Short summary of update Updated By Updated When
    All All Page Created ISA: JL 13/Mar/2022
    All All Full re-write and re-format ISA : JB 19/May/2022
    Section 3 When you do not need to apply for a new visa Amended to make clear this includes being transferred to the lower qualification of any integrated Masters ISA: SM 05/Aug/2022