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Academic Progression

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If you are a continuing student, please also refer to our course change/academic extension webpage. You may also wish to contact us or make an appointment to meet an Adviser if you have further queries.

From 4 July 2011, the Home Office UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) made it a requirement for Tier 4 sponsors to include a statement in student's CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) confirming that the course of study for which the CAS has been assigned represents academic progression from any study previously undertaken in the UK.

Without this statement, the CAS will not attract the required 30 points and the Tier 4 visa application will be refused.

We have compiled a list of commonly asked questions to help you understand whether this will affect you, and if so, how 'academic progression' is assessed by the University.

Please note that the information on this webpage is relevant to both new students (offer-holders going through Admissions and have not yet started their course at Warwick) and continuing students (those who are currently enrolled on a course at Warwick).


Please click on the relevant section below to expand the guidance.
  • No, it will not affect you if you have never studied in the UK using a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa or old-style Student Visa (issued before 2009). Also, it will not affect you if you have only studied in the UK using a Tier 4 (Child) visa, or Short Term Student Visa (or a Student Visitor Visa issued before 2016).

    Yes, it will affect you if you have previously been granted, or currently hold a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa (or old style Student Visa) for a course in the UK (regardless of whether or not you studied or completed the course). Your 'academic progression' will need to be assessed by the University before a CAS can be assigned. This applies to both offer-holders and continuing students.

    If you are an offer-holder, your Admissions team will usually become aware of your previous UK-based study when they read your application form and supporting documents but a full assessment will be made after you have submitted a CAS request online (as part of the CAS assignment procedure). It is very unlikely that the University will refuse to assign a CAS even if you have studied a same level course/failed a course before, because there are a number of exemptions (see question below).

    If you are a continuing student, 'academic progression' is about where you can make your visa application (in the UK or from your home country) and when you can make your visa application following a change in circumstances (for example, a change of course or the need to resit exams). It is very unlikely that the University will refuse to assign a CAS on the basis of 'Academic Progression' if you are currently enrolled on a course because there are a number of exemptions (see question below), although it may mean that you need to travel to your home country to make your visa application.

  • For offer-holders who have previously studied in the UK (note this does not include any UK qualifications studied overseas), the University is required to confirm in your CAS:

    - that you have successfully completed your previous course (by achieving the qualification for which your last visa was granted) AND the proposed course of study at Warwick is at a higher level (for example, if you are progressing from A level to Bachelor's degree, or, from a Bachelor's degree to a Master's degree); or,

    - that you have successfully completed your previous course which is at degree level (by achieving the qualification for which your last visa was granted) AND the proposed course of study at Warwick is at the same degree-level (for example, if you have previously completed a Master's degree and achieved the qualification, and would like to pursue a 2nd Master's degree). In this case, an assessment will be made by the University as to whether the new course represents academic progression despite being at the same level, and your CAS will include a statement regarding the justification; or,

    - that although you have not successfully completed your latest qualification (this is NOT the qualification for which your offer is based), you are likely to successfully complete this qualification based on performance. For example, if you are currently studying a Master's degree with a course end date of 30 September 2017, with exam board scheduled on 1 November 2017 but you wish to start your PhD at Warwick on 2 October 2017. Please refer to the How do I request a CAS with a pending UK qualification' section below if you are in this situation; or,

    - that you are exempt from the 'Academic Progression' requirement altogether (see question below).

    If you fail to meet the above requirement, for example, if you have previously studied A Level (at RQF Level 3) and would now like to study the IFP (International Foundation Programme, at RQF Level 3), or, if you have not successfully completed the qualification for which your last leave was granted and would now like to start a new course (for example, if you have started a Bachelor's degree elsewhere but withdrawn after the first year, and decided to come to Warwick to start another Bachelor's degree afresh), or, if you have previously completed a higher level course (for example, you have completed an Undergraduate Master's degree at NQF Level 7 and would now like to study the MBChB degree at NQF Level 6), your Admissions team will check whether you are willing to make your Tier 4 visa application from outside of the UK (so that you are exempt). If so, they will assign a CAS on this basis and state that you are exempt from meeting this requirement and your CAS is only valid for a Tier 4 visa application made from outside of the UK.

  • For continuing students who have had a change in circumstances such as course change (or are considering this), please refer to our course change/academic extension webpage for more specific information.

    Following the Immigration Rule change which came into effect on 11 January 2018, You can now apply for your Tier 4 visa in the UK if you are one of the following:

    - PhD or other doctoral students (NQF Level 8) requiring additional time to complete the same course/attend viva/ complete correction;

    - Anyone who is applying to resit an examination or repeat a course module, or, anyone who has previously re-sat examinations or repeated modules and require additional time to complete the course in respect of which those examinations were re-sat or modules repeated (for example, a Master's student who failed dissertation and needs more time to re-submit dissertation) - note this does NOT include re-starters;

    - Anyone who has transferred to a longer course because a study abroad year or work placement year has been added (either before or after completing the study abroad or work placement year);

    - Anyone who changed course from a Bachelor's degree (RQF Level 6) to an Undergraduate Master's degree (RQF Level 7), or, anyone who has been internally upgraded from a Master's course (RQF Level 7) to a PhD level course (RQF Level 8).

    You can NOT apply for your Tier 4 visa in the UK if you are one of the following:

    - Undergraduate students (RQF Level 6) who changed to a longer undergraduate course at the same RQF level for any reason other than study abroad/work placement/re-sit/repeat modules;

    - Undergraduate students who are re-starting on a different course;

    - Any student who applied for their current Tier 4 visa on or after 6 April 2016 and is downgrading, for example, from MEng (RQF Level 7) to BEng (RQF Level 6), or PhD (RQF Level 8) to MPhil (RQF Level 7)(PhD students who choose to exit with a MPhil qualification either before or after submitting their thesis should make an appointment to meet with an adviser in the Immigration Service team before making the course transfer request).

    - Postgraduate Master's degree students who require additional time (academic extension) to complete the course for reasons other than re-sitting examinations or repeating modules.

    - Postgraduate Master's degree students who transfer to a different Master's degree before completion, and are unable to demonstrate that the new course is either related to the last course completed in the UK (NOT the course they are currently enrolled on) or the two courses combined support their genuine career aspiration.

  • If your previous study is at a lower level and you have successfully completed that qualification (by having finished and achieved that qualification), for example, if you are progressing from A level to a Bachelor's degree, 'Academic Progression' is justified automatically and you do not need to do anything.

    If your previous study is at the same degree level, 'Academic Progression' needs to be assessed and justified either on the basis that the two courses are related (connected, part of the same subject group, or involves deeper specialisation), or, the two course combined support your genuine career aspiration. If you are unable to justify this, you should check whether you can be exempt from this requirement.

    If your previous study is at a higher level (for example, if you have previously been granted a visa for a PhD course and you withdrew before completion, and would now like to study a Master's degree at Warwick). In this case, you should check whether you can be exempt from this requirement.

    Different Admissions Team have slightly different process of assessing 'Academic Progression'.

    - If you have applied for a postgraduate course, the Postgraduate Admissions team will usually contact your academic department for an initial assessment. If there is enough information on your application form, personal statement and supporting documentation to convince your academic department that study at Warwick represents progression, they will provide a short justification statement to the Admissions team (if you have applied for a WMG full time Master's course, WMG Admissions team will make this assessment with support from their Admissions tutor). The Admissions Team will check that this statement meets the UKVI requirement and then store it for when it's time to assign a CAS. However, if your academic department feels unable to provide a justification statement, perhaps because there is not enough information, the Admissions team will contact you and request that you provide a statement. Once you have supplied the justification statement this will be forwarded to your academic department for consideration and, once approved, checked by Admissions and stored for when a CAS is assigned. Alternatively, if you are unable to justify 'Academic Progression', you may wish to be considered for a CAS on the basis of the exemption.

    - If you have applied for an undergraduate course, a similar process is in place but the assessment might be made by either an Admissions Officer or your academic department. Again, you might be contacted to provide a statement.

    - If you have applied for the IFP programme: the IFP team will check if you meet the requirement or are exempt from this requirement.

  • You will need to outline how the new course is related to your previous course of UK study(e.g. connected to previous course, part of the same subject group or involving a deeper specialisation), or, how the previous course and the new course together support your 'genuine career aspirations'. Although there is no guidance on how long this statement should be, we would recommend no more than one side of a A4 page.

  • If you selected on the 'CAS request form' that your latest UK qualification is pending (or complete but not awarded), and you are making your Tier 4 application from outside of the UK, your CAS will be assigned on the basis that you are 'exempt' from the Academic Progression requirement because you are making your visa application overseas.

    If you indicated that you are making your Tier 4 application in the UK, you will be sent an email outlining your options. As your degree has not been officially awarded yet, you have the option to obtain formal written confirmation from your current Tier 4 sponsor that, based on your performance, you are highly likely to successfully complete your course and the date by which this will be confirmed. If you choose to do so, you should be aware that in the unlikely event that you do not successfully complete your course by the date stated in the letter, the University of Warwick will be required to withdraw you from your new course and cease sponsoring you under Tier 4. Therefore, the least risky option is to make an overseas application.

    If you still prefer to make a Tier 4 application in the UK, you should contact your current Tier 4 sponsor (or your academic department if currently studying at Warwick) requesting this written confirmation. It must be printed on letter-headed paper and can be signed/stamped by your academic department or your institution. It must also contain the following information:
    1) Your full name;
    2) Name of the course and level of course;
    3) Date qualification is due to be awarded (this can be stated as a single day or a month but the latest date by which it is to be awarded must be within 3 months of the official course start date of the new course);
    4) A statement confirming that you are highly likely to successfully complete the qualification based on performance.

    If your current Tier 4 sponsor is the University of Warwick, you should ask your academic department to complete the Written Confirmation up to 3 months prior to your current course end date.

  • Yes. Students making their Tier 4 (General) student visa applications from outside of the UK are exempt from the 'Academic Progression' requirement. This means if you do not meet the 'Academic Progression' requirement for whatever reason, as long as you have confirmed (either by using the online CAS request form or by email) that you will make your Tier 4 (General) student visa application from outside of the UK, your CAS will be assigned on the basis that you are 'exempt' from evidencing academic progression. Your CAS will specify that it is only valid for use in a Tier 4 application made outside of the UK. If you use this CAS to apply for a Tier 4 visa within the UK, it will not attract the 30 points required and you are likely to receive a visa refusal.

    The University will usually apply the exemption automatically as long as you have confirmed that you will make your visa application outside of the UK, however, if your circumstance is complex and the University has reasons to believe that you are at high risk of a visa refusal based on 'credibility', then you may be contacted for further clarification and may be required to attend an interview (telephone or in person).

    The other exemption is for PhD (or any doctorate level at NQF level 8) students who are transferring to Warwick to complete the course for which they were last granted a Tier 4 visa (perhaps because they are following their supervisor). For such students their CAS will sepcify that they are exempt according to the relevant provision in the current Tier 4 Policy Guidance.

  • If the university has included an 'Academic Progression' justification statment on your CAS, or, if you do not meet the 'Academic Progression' requirement but are exempt because you will be making a visa application outside of the UK, you will be able to see the statement specific to your situation in your CAS.

    In both cases, you should be prepared that your visa application is likely to be subject to greater scrutiny, and you should be fully prepared to attend a 'credibility interview' (including a more in-depth 2nd interview) as part of your visa application. This is because the caseworker is required to assess whether you are a genuine student and not merely seeking to extend your stay in the UK through repeated periods of study. When making this assessment, the caseworker will consider the level of the courses, the subject matter of the new and previous courses, your education history, the credibility for your rationale for wishing to study the new course, and whether your justification sufficiently explains why you are applying to study the new course. If you are invited for an interview, you need to be prepared to talk in more detail about 'Academic Progression'. You should read about how to prepare for a Tier 4 visa interview.