UCL international students: Tier 4 students engagement monitoring and upcoming UK Visas and immigration audit
6 October 2015
The majority of UCL's international students require a Tier 4 visa to study with us, and in order for them to secure a visa, we have to be able to sponsor them, which we can only do if we have a license from Government.
Retention of our Tier 4 sponsor licence is therefore essential to allow us to continue to recruit international students, and to safeguard UCL's Tier 4 Sponsor Status, we must ensure that the University continues to comply with the Home Office Tier 4 sponsor duties.
As a Tier 4 sponsor, UCL will be subject to a UK Visas and immigration (UKVI) audit in the near future. During this audit colleagues will need to be able to demonstrate that Tier 4 student engagement is appropriately monitored. Engagement is more than just attendance in classes. We have to be able to show that students are attending but also engaging in their studies, for example by submitting coursework or sitting exams. Non-engagement and absences must be recorded and acted upon. Failure to monitor Tier 4 student engagement is likely to result in sanctions against the University and could even lead to revocation of the Tier 4 sponsor licence. This would severely damage UCL's reputation and have serious financial repercussions, as well as a major impact on students, as we would not be able to recruit new international students, and our current students would have to be sent home.
The audit process will involve UKVI checking large numbers of student files for evidence that we have records demonstrating that students are engaged, and that, where this is not the case, we have followed up and recorded reasons (illness for example.) It is important that all colleagues are aware of student absences and that these are appropriately authorised and recorded. Academic staff need to ensure that students are not absent for long periods of time without an authorised and documented reason, and that they do not miss key teaching, learning and assessment events, and continue to remain engaged in their studies.
In order to remain compliant, our current engagement monitoring policy has been revised and refreshed and as a result, engagement monitoring checks must be conducted at not less than 11 points throughout the year. The first point of engagement is at student enrolment. All subsequent checks must be on academic engagement rather than compliance with administrative tasks, reflecting the need to demonstrate more than attendance. An improved engagement monitoring tool has been developed to allow for accurate monitoring and reporting. The engagement monitoring tasks will now apply to Tier 4 students only.
The revised engagement monitoring policy will provide clearer definition, ensuring that practices and evidence kept by colleagues across UCL are consistent and that records are accurate and accessible in line with Home Office requirements. The revised policy can be found at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/iss/immigration-visa/staff.
Any queries can be directed to the Student Immigration Compliance Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bella Malins, Director of Access and Admissions, UCL Student and Registry Services