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Course Change

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Have you changed course, or, are you thinking about changing course?

If you are a Tier 4 student, and have

  • started your course but are changing to a different course part way through (or, through internal upgrade); or,
  • received a CAS/visa for a new course but wish to change to different course before coming to the UK

Please read on to understand:

  • If you need a new visa, and
  • If you do, when you must make this visa application.

Please refer to the 'Academic Progression' webpage for information as to where you can make this visa application, and how to request a new CAS, how to apply for a new Tier 4 visa, and how to contact us if you need help.


Frequently asked questions

Please click on the most relevant scenario to expand the guidance.
  • Example:

    You were originally on a 4-year Bachelor's degree course (which includes a year of work placement). You no longer wish to pursue the work placement year and would like to finish your degree in 3 years.

    Is it necessary to make a new visa application?

    No.

    How does the process work?

    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 as it is considered a significant change of your circumstances. You will receive an email when this report is made and this will not affect your visa during studies.

    Once 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 Tier 4 visa as an 'early completion' (as your original visa would be too long).

  • Examples:

    1. 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.
    2. You enrolled on a 1-year MBA and wish to change to 1-year Master's in Politics.

    Is it necessary to make a new visa application?

    This depends on whether you have previously been granted a Tier 4 visa (or a pre-Tier 4 visa).

    • If this is your first Tier 4 visa, then you do not need to make a new visa application.
    • If you have held a Tier 4 visa before and it is for studies at pre-degree level (for example, A level), then you do not need to make a new visa application.
    • If you have held a Tier 4 visa before and it is for studies at degree level (Bachelor's or Master's), and your previous degree is either related to the new course (this is the course you want to change to), or, the two courses combined support your genuine career aspirations, then you do not need to make a new visa application.
    • If you have held a Tier 4 visa before and it is for studies at degree level (Bachelor's or Master's), and your previous degree is NOT related to the new course (this is the course you want to change to), and, the two courses combined DO NOT support your genuine career aspiration, then you will need to make a new visa application from outside of the UK and receive a new visa before you can start the new course.
  • Examples:

    1. You enrolled on a 3-year BA in Politics but now you want to change to a 4-year BA in Politics with Intercalated Year at the end of Year 2.
    2. You enrolled on a 1-year MBA that finishes in July and wish to change to 1-year Master's in Politics that finishes in September.

    Is it necessary to make a new visa application?

    • If your current visa covers the whole duration of your new course: No. However, if you want to take advantage of the 'wrap up' period (this is the additional 4 or 6 months that the UKVI give to you to enable you to remain in the UK to work, undertake an internship or attend Graduation after studies), then you will need to make a new visa application from outside of the UK anytime before your current visa expiry date.
    • If your current visa is too short for the new course: Yes, you will need to make a new Tier 4 visa application, unless the additional course length is to undertake studies outside of the UK*.

    When would you need to make a new visa application?

    • If you applied for your current Tier 4 visa before 6 April 2016, you will be able to make this visa application anytime before your current visa expiry date.
    • If you applied for your current Tier 4 visa on or after 6 April 2016, and 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. You can make this visa application either within the UK or from your home country.
    • If you applied for your current Tier 4 visa on or after 6 April 2016, and the reason is anything other than adding a 'study abroad' or 'work placement' year (for example, if you opt to re-start on a different course afresh; if you are adding a qualifying law degree year etc.), you will need to make a Tier 4 student visa application before you are permitted to start your new course, and you can only make this visa application from your home country.  

    Who should you contact if you need to make a new visa application?

    • If you decide to make a Tier 4 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 Tier 4 visa application from your home country. We expect that most students would make their Tier 4 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. If you are a postgraduate student, your new course is slightly longer than the current course (for example, by up to 1 month) but you can still complete the new course within the validity of your current visa, you should refer to Scenario 2 above.
    • When you prepare for your new Tier 4 visa application, you will 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 £1015 per month for the remainder of the course to a maximum of 9 months). You should read the information on our website about Applying for a Tier 4 visa, and request a CAS online in good time. You should also 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.

    * 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), Please be aware that because you are not eligible for Tier 4 sponsorship during your year abroad, you will not be able to return to the UK with your existing Tier 4 visa when it expires. You will also lose out on the concession policy if your aim is to switch to a Tier 2 visa to work in the UK when you complete your studies. Please check our Tier 2 webpage for more information.

  • Examples:

    1. You enrolled on an 3-year BEng degree and you want to transfer to the 4-year MEng course at the end of Year 2.
    2. You enrolled on a 1-year MSc in Computer Science (leading to PhD) and are half way through, and you want to upgrade to a PhD in computer science.

    Is it necessary to make a new visa application?

    Yes, you will need to make a new Tier 4 application if your current visa is not long enough to cover the duration of the longer course.

    When would you need to make a new visa application?

    • If you applied for your current Tier 4 visa before 6 April 2016, you will be able to make a Tier 4 visa application either in the UK or outside of the UK before your current visa expiry date.
    • If you applied for your current Tier 4 visa on or after 6 April 2016, you will need to make a Tier 4 visa application either in the UK or outside of the UK, and need to have received your new visa before the course transfer will be actioned (at which point you can choose modules and enrol on the new course)

      What if you will receive the award before being upgraded?

      If the course change is 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):

      • You will need to make a Tier 4 visa application either in the UK or outside of the UK before starting the new course (the PhD course). You will need to submit confirmation of your Master's award, or, if you are still waiting for an exam board decision, a letter confirming that you are 'highly likely to complete your Master's studies' (to meet the 'Academic Progression' requirement), if you make your application within the UK. You can start the PhD course as soon as you have made the visa application (if applying in the UK), and do not need to wait until you receive the new visa.
    • Examples:

      You have chosen to, or, are required by Exam Board, to downgrade from a MEng to a BEng, or downgrade from a PhD to MPhil.

      Is it necessary to make a new visa application?

      • If you applied for your Tier 4 visa before 6 April 2016, and following the course change, you can complete the new course within the validity of your current visa, then No.
      • If you applied for your Tier 4 visa on or after 6 April 2016 then Yes, and you will need to have received your new visa before starting the new course.

      What if you don't want to make a new visa application?

      • If the course transfer is optional, for example, you requested the course transfer because this is what you wanted, rather than the Exam Board imposing this on you because you did not meet the grade requirement for the higher level course, then you will have the option of deferring your course change to your final year, so that you may opt for Early Completion instead of making a new visa application.
      • If you choose 'early completion', you will remain on the original course code, and you have to choose modules that are available for the higher level course.
      • If you want to choose modules from the lower level course, then early completion is not an option for you.

      Please note, this option is only available for those students who will be in their final year once they have completed their downgrade.

      See 'Withdrawals and breaks in studies' webpage for more information.

      • For PhD students who wish to transfer to a MPhil course either before or after submitting their thesis, please make an appointment to meet with an adviser so that we can explore your full options.