Changes to your course

You are sponsored by us to study the course stated on the CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) you used to apply for your Student immigration permission and should complete that course by the course end date on the CAS. If there are changes to your course after you have started studying, your Student immigration permission may be affected. It is your responsibility to check what impact changes will have on your Student immigration permission and what you will need to do.

There is a maximum amount of time you can have Student immigration permission for to study at undergraduate degree level or below. If changes to your course mean that you will exceed this limit, we will not be able to sponsor you and you are very unlikely to be able to complete your course. You can find out more, including how to calculate the time you will need to complete your course, on our maximum period of study rules page.

As your Student Sponsor we are required to report most changes to your course to the Home Office. Our International Services team will let you know if we make a report that has an impact on your Student immigration permission.

If you want to study a different Essex course

It is not always possible for you to make the change you would like to due to the Student Immigration Rules and guidance, 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.

Changes during your course

Before making a change

Before making any changes to your course we recommend you read this guidance carefully:

Possible consequences of changes to your course are:

  • You may need a new Student visa overseas before you can change.
  • There is a maximum amount of time you can spend in the UK at undergraduate degree level or below as a sponsored student, if you will exceed this we will not be able to sponsor you for a longer course.

Changes to your course are made at your own risk as we cannot guarantee further 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. We will contact you if necessary.

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 three-year to a four-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 new Student immigration permission. You will need your new Student immigration permission before you can start the new longer course and you may have to make that application overseas.

Please be aware that there is a maximum limit of five years that you can spend studying at undergraduate degree level with Student immigration permission. If you will exceed this by the time the new permission would expire, you will not be able to change to a longer course.

I want to change to shorter course, same level

For instance to:

  • change from a four-year to a three-year UG degree
  • change from a 20 month or two-year masters to a shorter masters

It is usually possible to change to a shorter course at the same level. When you have finished your course, we will report this to the Home Office who will curtail your Student immigration permission to expire early.

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

For instance to:

  • change from a one-year masters to a different one-year masters
  • change from a three-year UG degree to a three-year UG degree

Provided the new course is at the same level, of the same duration and you can complete it by the date your current Student immigration permission expires, the course change will usually be allowed under Student Immigration Rules. In some circumstances you may have to obtain a new Student 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 will not be able to study the lower-level course with your current Student immigration permission 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 will not 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 will need to request a new CAS when your department has agreed an extension to your course end date and if eligible, make a Student route 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 will have to obtain a new ATAS certificate, if applicable.

Please seek advice from our International Services team.

Starting a new course after you have 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 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 at Essex. You must be able to meet all the Student Immigration Rules and requirements to apply in the UK and will need a CAS for the new course from our Admissions team.

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 to obtain new immigration permission to start a new course with them.

Information, advice and guidance

Exam board decisions, repeating and resitting

If you have Student immigration permission, in the event that you cannot proceed directly into the next stage of your course and must repeat or resit part or all of the year, your Student immigration permission is likely to be affected. During periods of non-attendance, you will have to leave the UK.

If you require additional Student immigration permission to complete your course, you will need to request a new CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) and if you are eligible, apply for Student immigration permission. Your CAS request will be assessed in line with the Home Office rules and guidance in force at the time, our sponsorship is not guaranteed.

Exam board decisions

Our Exam Board decisions guide (.pdf) tells what usually happens regarding your Student immigration permission depending on the outcome you choose. Further failure will lead to a different outcome which must be checked at the time of those outcomes.

The Board of Examiners are not aware of a student’s immigration status, so it is not considered and decisions are made entirely on academic grounds following the Rules of Assessment. It is not always possible for a sponsored student to take up all options given by an Exam Board if you will need further immigration permission due to the Student Immigration Rules and guidance, specifically in relation to:

  • attendance and engagement
  • academic progression
  • the number of resits/repeats allowed
  • UG students can only have a student visa for five years

Please note: It is your responsibility to check what effect the option you choose will have on your immigration status now and in the future if further Student immigration permission would be necessary. Sponsored students who are unable to successfully complete their course before their Student immigration permission expires may not be eligible for further sponsorship under the Student route and may not be eligible to apply to the Graduate route if they successfully complete later.

If you have been offered an option not listed in this page, please contact the International Services team for advice before making a choice.

Repeating parts of your course

Full-time repeat year

You will continue to be studying a full-time course and are likely to have to apply for further permission to stay under the Student Immigration Rules to complete your course. If you will have spent the maximum number of years allowed in the UK studying before your course finish date, you will not be eligible for our sponsorship.

If you wish to apply for Student permission to stay in the UK, we recommend you do so before the start of your repeat year so that you can continue your studies through to completion without interruption.

If you do not apply for further Student permission before your repeat year begins, you will have to make the application in your home country overseas. The latest you can apply for Student permission to complete your course will be in the University vacation before your current Student permission expires. You should note that when making an application overseas you will have to attend a credibility interview with the UKVI and must be able to demonstrate that you are a genuine and credible student, you may be asked about your academic failure and your progression.

Part-time repeat year

If the Board of Examiners have offered you the opportunity to repeat one or more modules, but not a full repeat year, this will affect your student immigration status and you will have to leave the UK when you are not required to attend. If you will have spent the maximum number of years allowed in the UK studying before your course finish date, you will not be eligible for our sponsorship.

You will continue to be studying a full-time course but on a part-time basis for the specified period(s). See the various options you may be offered below.

The module(s) is taught in both the autumn and spring terms followed by an examination in the summer term, in the next academic year

You will be attending in all terms and therefore can remain in the UK during this period provided you have valid Student immigration permission. If you will need to extend your Student immigration permission to complete your course, the University is able to sponsor you for the full academic year, provided you are eligible.

The module(s) is taught in the autumn term followed by an examination in the summer term, in the next academic year

If you have a valid Student immigration permission, you should leave the UK at the end of the autumn term. Your Student immigration permission will be curtailed (cut short) by the Home Office and you will need to apply for a new Student visa overseas before returning to the UK to take your exams in the summer term, if you are eligible for our sponsorship.

The module(s) is taught in the spring term followed by an examination in the summer term, in the next academic year

If you have valid Student immigration permission, you should leave the UK at the end of the academic year, your Student immigration permission will be curtailed (cut short) by the Home Office. You will need to apply for a new Student visa overseas before returning to the UK for the start of the spring term in the next academic year, if you are eligible for our sponsorship.

Resitting exams (out of residence)

Students who are offered resits out of residence will not be required to attend until the first exam in the summer term of the next academic year. You should leave the UK during this period. If you have valid Student immigration permission it will be curtailed (cut short) by the Home Office and will not be valid for travel back to the UK.

Most students will need to apply for entry clearance overseas before returning to the UK to take their resit exam(s). If your studies will have finished once you have taken your exam(s) you should be able to apply to return to the UK as a Standard Visitor, provided you can meet all the Home Office requirements. Standard Visitors cannot work or apply to extend their visa from within the UK. Non-visa nationals can apply for entry as a Standard Visitor at the UK border. Read our Visitor route page for more information.

The University does not sponsor students under Student route when they are only required to resit exams. If your resits are to be held inside the UK and there are reasons why you would like to apply for a Student visa to return to the UK to take your resit exams, you should contact the International Services team to ask if it would be possible for us to sponsor you to apply for a Student visa.

Resubmission of dissertation - Postgraduate taught students

Postgraduate taught students who are offered the opportunity to resubmit their dissertation are not required to be present at the University and can submit online. Therefore, if your Student immigration permission expires before you are due to submit your dissertation, the University will not able to sponsor you to apply for further Student immigration permission.

If you need to be in the UK to work on and submit your dissertation and you would like to apply for further Student immigration permission, you should contact the International Services team to ask if it would be possible for us to sponsor you.

Attending your Viva Voce - PhD students

If your Student immigration permission will expire before you have attended your Viva and finished your PhD you can request a new CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) and if eligible, apply for Student immigration permission. Please be aware that you may have to apply overseas.

Taking a break

Taking a break in your studies is likely to have consequences to your student immigration permission and future plans so please make sure you read this information carefully before taking action.

There are a maximum number of years you can study with Student immigration permission at or below undergraduate degree level so, any changes to your studies that will result in you spending longer than planned to obtain your qualification must be considered very carefully.

Intermitting

During a period of intermission or leave of absence you will not be meeting all the requirements and conditions of your Student immigration permission and must leave the UK. We are required to report your intermission to the Home Office who will curtail (cut short) your Student immigration permission to expire in 60 days, it would not be valid for re-entry to the UK regardless of the expiry date. Our International Services team will email you when the report is made.

To return to the UK and resume your course, you would need to apply for a new Student visa overseas if you are eligible for our sponsorship. You will need to request a new CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) up to four months before you are due to re-commence your course.

Please note that your immigration conditions only allow you to work if you are studying. Therefore, as soon as you stop studying you will no longer be able to work and if you do so will be breaching your immigration conditions.

Taking a very short break

If you need a very short break, for instance a couple of weeks, then you can request to be absent from your department. If agreed, this would be an authorised absence and would not affect your student visa. Taught students will need to make the request online. PhD students will need to ask their Supervisor/department.

Pregnancy

If you are pregnant, you may be able to take a longer authorised absence of up to 6 weeks. If your department agree to up to 6 weeks, we would not need to report this to the Home Office and your Student immigration permission would not be affected. This will be up to your department and it may not be possible. If you would like a longer absence than this, you will need to intermit and will have to leave the UK during that period, see above information about intermission.

We recommend you seek immigration advice from our International Services team, you may be referred to an immigration lawyer.

Withdrawing

If you choose to withdraw from your course or are withdrawn by the University, we will be required to report this to the Home Office. The Home Office will curtail your Student immigration permission to expire in 60 days, unless it already expires before then and you should leave the UK. Unless you will be making a valid immigration application to stay in the UK as allowed within the Immigration Rules. Our International Services team will email you when the report is made.

If you have withdrawn from the University of Essex but would like to remain in the UK to study elsewhere, you should seek immigration advice from the institution you wish to study at.

If you are withdrawing from one University of Essex course to start another course with us, please read the information about changing your course. You will have to leave the UK and make a new visa application, if you are eligible for our sponsorship.

Please note that your immigration conditions only allow you to work if you are studying. Therefore, as soon as you stop studying you will no longer be able to work and if you do so will be breaching your immigration conditions.

Completing your course early

If you finish your course before the course end date on your CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) we will be required to report this to the Home Office, who will curtail (cut short) your Student immigration permission.

If you have successfully completed the course on your CAS your Student immigration permission should be curtailed with the same ‘wrap up’ period that was given when you were issued your Student immigration permission. For Essex students the wrap up period is usually two or four months.

If you have been awarded a different qualification than the one stated on your CAS, for instance you have been awarded a PG Diploma or Certificate but were sponsored to study a masters, your Student immigration permission will be curtailed to expire in 60 days.