Students Staff

Changing to a different course

If you have a Tier 4 or Student visa to study with us, your study condition allows you to study on the course that was stated on your CAS. If you want to change your course you may need to obtain a new Student visa first. We only sponsor students who are studying a full-time eligible course with us.

It’s not always possible for you to make the change you’d like to due to the immigration rules, the requirements regarding academic progression and your visa conditions. If it is possible to change your course academically, it may be necessary for you to obtain a new Student visa overseas before you can start the new course.

Changing to a different course at Essex – Degree level or above

  • Changes during your course

    Before making a change

    Before making any changes to your course we recommend you read the relevant guidance below.

    Possible consequences of changes to your course are:

    • You may need a new Student visa and may need to apply overseas before you can change.
    • There’s a maximum amount of time you can spend in the UK as a sponsored student, so if you will exceed this we won’t be able to sponsor you for a longer course.

    Changes to your course are made at your own risk as we cannot guarantee further Student sponsorship or that you could return to your original course.

    The University has to report all course changes to the Home Office.

    Once your course change request has been considered and approved on academic grounds by your department and our Student Progress Team or Postgraduate Research and Education Team (PhD students), your request will be considered by our International Services Team..

    The International Services Team will check the Immigration Rules and guidance in force at the time and if you can go ahead with the change you will receive an email confirming the change and giving you immigration guidance.

    I want to change to a longer course, same level

    For instance to:

    • add a year abroad
    • add a work placement year
    • change from a 3 year to a 4 year UG degree
    • change from a one year Masters to a longer Masters course

    If you want to change to a longer Undergraduate or Masters course that ends after your current visa expires, you will need to apply for a new Student visa. You’ll need your new visa before you can start the new longer course and you may have to make that application overseas.

    Please be aware that there are a maximum number of years you can spend studying in the UK at degree level with a Student visa. If you will exceed this by the time the new visa would expire, you will not be able to change to a longer course. Under the current Student Immigration Rules this limit only applies to Undergraduate students.

    I want to change to shorter course, same level

    For instance to:

    • change from a 4 year to a 3 year UG degree
    • change from a 20 month or 2 year Masters to a shorter Masters

    It is usually possible to change to a shorter course at the same level. When you’ve finished your course we will report this to the Home Office who will curtail your visa to expire early.

    I want to change to a course of the same level and length

    For instance to:

    • change from a 1 year Masters to a different 1 year Masters
    • change from a 3 year UG degree to a 3 year UG degree

    Provided the new course is at the same level, of the same duration and you can complete it within your current visa period, the course change will usually be allowed under Immigration Rules. In some circumstances you may have to obtain a new visa overseas before you can change to the new course.

    Changing to a lower level course

    For instance to:

    • change from PhD to MPhil

    If you want to change to a lower level course or have received this outcome from the University, you won’t be able to study the lower level course on your current Student visa and, depending on the stage of study you are at, we may not be able to sponsor you. If we can sponsor you and issue a CAS, you will have to make the application overseas before you can continue on the lower level course.

    Changing your mode of study

    For instance to:

    • distance learner or part-time

    The University only sponsors students to study full time in the UK, if you wish to change to part-time study this won’t be possible as a sponsored student. Distance learners cannot be sponsored under Student Immigration Rules, but may be able to come to the UK as a visitor for shorter periods.

    PhD students

    If your PhD takes longer than expected you’ll need to request a new CAS when your department has agreed an extension to your course end date and if eligible make a new Student visa application, you will usually be able to do this from inside the UK.

    Changes to your subject matter and length of course may mean that you’ll have to obtain a new ATAS certificate, if applicable.

    Please seek advice from our International Services team.

  • Starting a new course after you’ve completed your current course

    If you wish to study at a higher level and have been awarded the qualification for the course you have current Tier 4/Student permission to study, you may be able to remain in the UK and make an application for further permission to stay under the Student Immigration Rules to study a new course with at Essex. You must be able to meet all the Immigration Rules and requirements to apply in the UK and will need a CAS for the new course from our Admissions team. Please read our applying for a visa section for more information.

    If the course you wish to start is not at a higher level this will not meet academic progression requirements of the Student Immigration Rules and the University may not be able to sponsor you. Admissions will carry out the necessary checks when you apply.

    Leaving the University of Essex to study elsewhere

    If you want to change your course to another at a different institution in the UK, you will need to contact that institution to ask what you would need to do about your visa.

    Information, advice and guidance

Other changes to your course

If there are any changes to your planned studies once you’ve started your course, your student visa may be affected. Please read our guidance to find out more:

Further advice and guidance

If you require further guidance you can contact specialist advisers in our International Services Team.