Students Staff

Tier 4 - Changing your course

If you have a Tier 4 (General) student visa to study with us your study condition allows study on the course that was stated on your CAS so if you want to change your course you may need a new Tier 4 visa.

It’s not always possible for you to make the change you’d like to due to the Tier 4 requirements regarding academic progression and your visa conditions. If you can make the change you may have to return home to obtain a new Tier 4 visa first.

Students studying below degree level or those wishing to study a lower level degree course will not be able to change to a new course on their existing Tier 4 visa.

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 Tier 4 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 Tier 4 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 Tier 4 sponsorship or that you could return to your original course.

    The University has to report all course changes to the Home Office and our International Services team will advise you when a report has been made.

    If you obtained your Tier 4 visa before the 6 April 2016 you may have other options. Read the Tier 4 Policy Guidance for more information.

    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 Tier 4 visa expires you will need to apply for a new Tier 4 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 Tier 4 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.

    Once your course change request has been considered by your department and our Progress Team it will be passed to our International Services team.

    Our International Services team will check the Tier 4 rules and guidance in force at the time and if you can go ahead with the change you will receive an email from the Progress Team that will include immigration advice.

    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 under Tier 4 rules. When you’ve finished your course we will report this to the Home Office who will curtail your Tier 4 visa to expire early.

    Once your course change has been considered by your department and our Progress Team it will be passed to our International Services team.

    Our International Services team will check the Tier 4 rules and guidance in force at the time and if you can go ahead with the change you will receive an email from the Progress Team that will include immigration advice.

    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 Tier 4 rules. In some circumstances you may have to obtain a new visa before you can change to the new course.

    Once your course change has been considered by your department and our Progress Team it will be passed to our International Services team.

    Our International Services team will check the Tier 4 rules and guidance in force at the time and if you can go ahead with the change you will receive an email from the Progress Team that will include immigration advice.

    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 Tier 4 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.

    PhD students

    If your PhD takes longer than expected you’ll need to request a new CAS and if eligible make a new Tier 4 application, you will usually be able to do this from inside the UK.

    Changes to your subject matter may mean that you’ll have to obtain a new ATAS certificate.

    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 permission to study. You may be able to remain in the UK and make a new Tier 4 application to study a new course with at Essex. You must be able to meet all the Tier 4 immigration rules and requirements to apply in the UK and will need a CAS for the new course. 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 Tier 4 academic progression rules and the University may not be able to sponsor you to study this as a Tier 4 (General) student. 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