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Compliance

The Compliance team is responsible for ensuring the University remains compliant with external requirements across a range of sector areas, including Consumer Protection Legislation.  This is done through awareness raising across the University, reviewing and monitoring relevant policies and publications, and providing training, information and advice across the University.

The team is also responsible for all matters relating to UKVI Tier 4 visa compliance across the University, co-ordinating work across Registry, Schools and other Units to ensure that all staff, students and applicants are aware of their responsibilities and requirements, and providing advice, information and guidance on all matters relating to Tier 4 visa compliance.

The Compliance team is responsible for the organisation and delivery of events to support compliance, including Matriculation and Advising in both Semesters, and the annual Tier 4 student engagement event in Semester 2.  Staff in the team work with other teams and Units to deliver effective, efficient and student-centred activities, systems and events to ensure that all students can Advise, Matriculate and meet their Tier 4 responsibilities in a supportive and effective environment.

Registration of international students

Responsibility for ensuring all international students have the appropriate immigration status before they matriculate each year.  This is done through a document check that takes place at Matriculation each year, where all Tier 4 students' travel and immigration documents are checked and uploaded to our student record system.

CAS issuing for Tier 4 students

Responsibility for providing evidence of our Tier 4 sponsorship through a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) for applicants and current students.  Checks are carried out in the process to ensure that applicants and students have the appropriate evidence of qualifications, as well as financial requirements for successfully applying for a Tier 4 visa.

Reporting of changes to UKVI

Notifying UK Visas & Immigration of changes to status for our Tier 4 sponsored students. This includes changes of circumstance, such as taking a leave of absence, studying abroad for a period, or changing the level or duration of a programme.

Management of UKVI Confirmation Event

Delivering the Tier 4 Visa confirmation event in February.  This is a key event in our engagement monitoring, allowing us to check that all Tier 4 students have returned to their studies for Semester 2, and that they still have the appropriate leave to remain and study in the UK.  This is a compulsory activity for Tier 4 students and we will follow up all students who do not attend.

What is a Tier 4 Student?

UK Student Visa (Tier 4) Requirements. International students from outside the UK or EU must apply for a student visa. You can only apply for a student visa if you intend to study a full-time degree course in the UK. Student visas are not issued for part-time courses.

There are two student categories under Tier 4 of the Points Based System Tier 4 (General) and Tier 4 (Child). The University of St Andrews only sponsors Tier 4 (General):

  • This is for students coming to the UK for post-16 education. A Tier 4 (General) student must be at least 16 years old.

A Student must meet the full requirements of the Immigration Rules and have 40 points in total as shown below:

 POINTS REQUIRED: 40
The student must have a valid Confirmation of Acceptance for studies from a fully licensed Tier 4 sponsor 30 Points
The student must have enough money to cover course fees and monthly living costs (also known as maintenance or funds) 10 points

How Long will a student visa last?

Entry Clearance Officers (ECO) have strict instructions on the length of stay they can issue to students. When the student is making an application to the UKVI the information provided by the University on the CAS and the information provided by the student on the application is compared to assist the ECO in their decision making; the decision is determined by the end date of the students course and is as follows;

Type of Course Total Length of Course Length of stay allowed
Main course of study (including Student Union Sabbatical Officers)


12 months or more The duration of the course plus 4 months after the end of the course
6 months or more, but less than 12 months The duration of the course plus 2 months after the end of the course
Less than 6 months The duration of the course plus 7 days after the end of the course
 Pre-sessional courses
  
12 months or more The duration of the course plus 4 months after the end of the course
6 months or more, but less than 12 months The duration of the course plus 2 months after the end of the course
Less than 6 months  The duration of the course plus 1 month after the end of the course
Postgraduate doctors and dentists on a recognised Foundation programme The duration of the course (up to a maximum of 3 years) plus 1 month after  the end of the course

University Responsibilities as a Sponsor for students

As a Tier 4 Sponsor, the University of St Andrews is expected to ensure that we and our students are compliant with the points-based system policy guidance and the immigration rules. If we fail to comply we are at risk of losing our Tier 4 Sponsor Licence and will not be able to register International Students, and those that are currently studying with us will need to find another university or return to their home country. We take our duties under this legislation very seriously.

Our responsibilities are to;

  •  Retain copies of all documents pertinent to your immigration status in the UK, such as passports, visa/biometric ID cards, police registration certificates and ATAS certificates
  •  Ensure that entry into new courses represents academic progression
  •  Keep up-to-date contact details for you
  • Make sure that we only admit you to study with us if you hold the correct visa to study at the University of St Andrews
  • Report to the UKVI should you fail to enrol when expected
  • Monitor your attendance and report any unauthorised absences to the UKVI
  • Report any changes in your student status such as
    • leave of absence (suspending your studies)
    • termination of studies
    • withdrawal from studies
    • changes in course length
    • changes of course title
    • periods of study abroad or placements away from the University
    • late submission of course work/dissertation
    • re-submisson of course work/dissertation
    • unauthorised absences
    • deferring your course
    • transferring to another course or university
    • report to the UKVI if we become aware of any breaches of the immigration rules made by you.
    • If you suspend your studies for personal or academic reasons (e.g. illness, pregnancy, maternity or paternity leave, financial reasons) then UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will normally expect you to leave the UK within 60 days unless you are not medically able to do so. In the case of pregnancy, you may not be able to return home if you are in the late stages of pregnancy.  Suspension of studies at St Andrews is normally recorded by Registry as a Leave of Absence (LoA).

    If you hold a Tier 4 visa issued using a CAS number, the University is obliged to report your LoA to UKVI who may cancel your visa.

Student Responsibilities

If you require a Tier 4 visa to be in the UK as a student it is vital that you are aware of and adhere to the immigration rules; if you fail to comply with the rules you risk your student status and an adverse immigration record; you also risk the University’s Sponsor Licence and the status of all the International students studying here.

Your responsibilities are;

  • Make sure that your passport and visa are valid
  • Respond to all requests to present your passport, visa and other documents for scanning in person
  • Keep the University updated with any changes to your documents, for example:
    • you get a new passport
    • you get a new BRP card
    • you extend your visa (not through the University)
    • you change your immigration status
  • Maintain up-to-date contact details: term-time address and telephone number (via MySaint) and tell the University immediately about any changes to these details
  • Register for your programme of study within the matriculation period (at the start of the academic year or in January)
  • Attend lectures, seminars, laboratory sessions and tutorials, and complete all compulsory elements of your course on time.  The University Academic Alert policy is used to monitor student attendance and engagement.
  • Self-certificate for any absences and keep your School or Department up-to-date with any issues that may impact your studies
  • Follow University procedures if you are planning to take a leave of absence, changing your programme of studies, applying for a change in location of studies or are intending to withdraw from your studies
  • Leave the UK within 60 days of reporting to the UKVI if you take leave of absence or withdraw from your studies
  • If you are permitted to work you must keep within the restrictions of your working hours which apply to both paid and unpaid work.  Your maximum weekly (defined as Monday – Sunday) working hours during term time are:
    • 20 hours a week if you are studying at degree level or above
    • 20 hours a week if you are on a study abroad programme at an ‘overseas higher education institution’ in the UK
    • 10 hours a week if you are studying a course that is below degree level
  • Keep to the restrictions of your working hours which do not permit you to work within the following areas:
    • Self-employment and business activity e.g. Deliveroo rider, baby sitter, dog walker, etc.
    • Work as a professional sportsperson including as a sports coach
    • Entertainer
    • Full information is available from UK Council for International Student Affairs https://www.ukcisa.org.uk/blog/6257/A-working-definition
  • Keep up-to-date with tuition fees and other payments
  • Register with the police if this is a condition of your leave to enter and remain
  • Stay up-to-date with and abide by the immigration rules
  • If you are planning a change to your programme and this will result in a change to the length of your programme, you must seek advice from the International Student Advisers (advint@st-andrews.ac.uk) as you may have to leave the UK and get a new visa.

Reporting students for non-engagement

Students are required to fully engage with their studies to be eligible to continue on their programmes on a Tier 4 visa.  Students on taught programmes will have at least 2 compulsory activities per module per semester, and most will have significantly more than that.  Attendance at compulsory events takes the form of a class register taken during the session, which is recorded by the Module Co-ordinator and stored within the relevant School.  Failure to attend compulsory activities will result in students receiving an academic alert.  All academic alerts issued to Tier 4 students are monitored and investigated by Registry staff, who will follow up any where there is concern.

Examples of attendance patterns that would be of concern include:

  • Non-attendance at Matriculation in Semester 1 or the UKVI Confirmation Event in Semester 2
  • Missing compulsory activities without good reason
  • Regularly missing any activities over a prolonged period without good reason
  • Non-attendance at exams without good reason.

Student engagement examples

Student A is a Tier 4 undergraduate student on an MA Hons History and French.  A attends class regularly and submits coursework ontime.  A becomes ill with flu and misses class for over a week, but self-certificates this period. 

This type of absence is not of concern from a Tier 4 monitoring view, and would not be followed up by Registry.

Student B is a Tier 4 taught postgraduate student on an MLitt Marketing. B has attended classes throughout the taught semesters and has progressed to the dissertation.  B decides to leave St Andrews for the dissertation period to carry out research in London, but does not inform their supervisor, the school, or Registry. 

This change in location of studies should have been submitted to the school and approved by the Pro-Dean, along with an engagement plan for the time away from St Andrews. 

This absence is of concern from a Tier 4 monitoring view and would be followed up by Registry.

Student C is a Tier 4 undergraduate student studying the MChem Chemistry.  C has now missed three compulsory tutorials and an attendance academic alert was issued by the school in Week 5.  C has not been in touch with the school in response to the alert and has now received a final academic alert and will receive 0X for the module. 

This absence is of concern from a Tier 4 monitoring view and would be followed up immediately by Registry. 

Student D is a Tier 4 research student in the School of English.  D has submitted a request to spend 6 months in Paris, undertaking research, which was approved by the School and Pro-Dean. However, the student has not been in touch with their supervisor in line with their agreed engagement plan, and is not responding to communications from the supervisor over a period of three weeks.

This absence is of concern from a Tier 4 monitoring view and would be followed up by Registry.

Student E is a Tier 4 taught postgraduate student on an MSc Mathematics. E did not attend the Semester 2 UKVI Confirmation Event despite many emails about the event and several reminders.  This is a compulsory activity for all Tier 4 students in Semester 2.

This absence is of concern from a Tier 4 monitoring view and would be followed up by Registry.

Follow up action by Registry

When the Compliance Team are notified that a Tier 4 student has not been attending relevant activities, they will investigate and follow up these non-attendances, contacting the student to establish what the circumstances are and whether the student may carry on attending their programme, or if the University needs to take sponsor action.  We will try to contact students using some or all of the following means and sources of information:

  • Contacting the student directly by University email initially, and then using contact details provided by the student
  • Contacting the student's Adviser of Studies
  • Contacting the relevant Module Co-ordinator, School Administrative Team or Director of Teaching
  • Contacting student services where there is concern that a student may be at risk or missing
  • Contacting the relevant Warden, where a student is in University accommodation

Where students cease to engage with the University either temporarily or permanently, and we have made several unsuccessful attempts to contact a student, or where attendance is of concern without good reason, then the University will report these students to the UKVI as no longer being sponsored by the University.  This will be undertaken by The Visa Compliance Team in Registry, and the student's visa will be withdrawn.  At that point the student will have 60 days to leave the United Kingdom. 

Re-engagements

The student must first confirm their intention to return to study with Registry and your academic record must then reflect your new course end date. If the student is a Non EU/EEA student they will need to apply for a new visa to return to their studies; they must apply in their home country or in a country where they have the right of residence.  The studnet will need a Confirmation of Acceptance to Study (CAS) from the University to facilitate the visa application, this can be obtained by emailing advint@st-andrews.ac.uk.