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Course Change (TIER 4 visa is now known as Student Visa)

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

If you hold a student visa, 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 student 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?

    When you request the course change, your department will need to confirm on the request form that you meet the 'academic progression' requirement as the two courses are related.

    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 student 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 the two courses are related or combined support your genuine career aspiration.

    • When you request the course change, your department will first need to confirm on the request form that you meet the 'academic progression' requirement. This requirement is met if your current course is related to the new course, or, if the two courses combined support your genuine career aspirations. If they are able to justify that, then you do not need to make a new visa application.
    • However, if your academic department is unable to justify that, 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?

    • When you request the course change, your department will need to confirm on the request form that you meet the 'academic progression' requirement (i.e., the two courses are related or combined support your genuine career aspiration).
    • If they are able to justify that, and your current visa covers the whole duration of your new course, then you don't need to make a new visa application. However, if the new course is longer and you want to take advantage of the 'wrap up' period (this is the additional 4 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 they are unable to justify that, or, if your current visa is too short for the new course, then you will need to make a new Student 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 Student 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 Student 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 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 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. 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 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). You should read the information on our website about Applying for a student 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.
      • You do not need to submit financial evidence 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 submission (you do not need to worry about short holidays/absences of less than 3 months)

    * 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 student visa sponsorship during your year abroad, you will not be able to return to the UK with your existing student visa when it expires. 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.

  • 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 student visa 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 student visa on or after 6 April 2016, you will need to make a student 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 student 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 student 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 student 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.

      • PhD students who wish to transfer to a MPhil course should be mindful of the following
        • Switching to an MPhil before you have submitted your final thesis will require you to make a new visa application to cover the downgrade; this is because at the point of switching course you will not know whether further study or corrections to your thesis will be needed before you can complete
        • If you switch to an MPhil after your thesis has been submitted and the outcome is that you are downgraded but pass straight away, you will then be eligible for early completion and will not be required to make a new visa application
        • If you switch to an MPhil after your thesis has been submitted and further study is needed or you are given corrections, you will need to make a new visa application to cover the downgrade, in accordance with UKVI regulations

      Please make an appointment to meet with an adviser if any of the above scenarios apply to you and you would like to discuss further.