This page explains the requirements you must meet to get a licence for the tier 4 - students categories of the points-based system to work. The information is based on Home Office statement of intent published on 30 July 2008.
Find the tier 4 implementation plan which explains the phased delivery of tier 4.
What education providers must show?
If you are an educational institution, you must show that:
you have been inspected, audited or reviewed by Ofsted or its devolved equivalents, the Independent Schools Inspectorate or the Quality Assurance Agency; or
you hold valid accreditation from an accreditation body approved by Home Office.
The courses you run for adult international students will also need to lead to a qualification approved by Home Office and any courses provided for children will need to be taught in line with the National Curriculum, the National Qualifications Framework or approved by Ofsted.
If you cannot show the above, Home Office will refuse your application for a licence.
Procedures are in place for Home Office approved accreditation bodies to inform Home Office promptly if an institution's accreditation is removed and to act quickly to check institutions when Home Office staff report concerns. If you need accreditation and lose your accreditation, your licence will be withdrawn by Home Office.
Accreditation for private providers
If you are a private education provider, you will need to show that you hold valid accreditation from an accreditation body approved by Home Office in the list below, or that you have passed an inspection by Ofsted.
Ofsted - the Office for Standards in Education;
Accreditation UK - a British Council scheme which offers an accreditation service for English language schools;
BAC - the British Accreditation Council - which offers a more general accreditation service to cover a wide range of different educational establishments and their courses; and
ASIC - the Accreditation Service for International Colleges - which also offers a general accreditation service to cover a wide range of different educational establishments and their courses.
What publicly funded institutions must show?
Publicly funded institutions must already submit themselves to a system of public inspections conducted by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), and its devolved equivalents. Institutions in the higher education sector must submit to reviews by the Quality Assurance Agency.
If you are a publicly funded institution, you will need to show that you have undergone such an inspection or review but you will not have to undergo any additional accreditation before you apply. These reviews give Home Office the appropriate assurance that you are a genuine provider of education.
Independent schools will need to show that they have been inspected by either the Independent Schools Inspectorate or Ofsted, but do not need any additional accreditation.
Limited concession to overseas higher education institutions
If you are an overseas higher education institution that only offers short-term study abroad programmes in your own premises in the United Kingdom to students who are enrolled in their home country and who come to the United Kingdom for one or two semesters before returning home to finish their degree courses you will not need any additional accreditation.
You must still get a licence, by providing the following to prove that you are a genuine institution:
you hold overseas accreditation from a nationally recognised accreditor;
you only teach part of your higher education programmes in the United Kingdom; and
you have full legal control of the premises you use; and
if Home Office are able to confirm that your programmes are United Kingdom degree level equivalents.
If you want to employ migrant workers in your educational institution, you should decide under what tier and category you want to bring them to the United Kingdom and read the section for the tier and category.
Under the new student route, students coming here to study as adults will need to have achieved some qualifications before coming to the United Kingdom. This shows they have the ability and the intention to learn and finish a further course of study.
Students under the general category will only be able to apply to study for courses at a minimum level of National Qualifications Framework (NQF) level 3 or equivalent or above. English language students will be expected to have already started to learn English, and their course will need to be at a minimium of level A2 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
You will also need to make sure that your international students are enrolled on courses which lead to a qualification approved by Home Office, which is one that is:
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