Are you aware of the enhanced status of education oversight bodies – such as ISI, QAA or Ofsted – and how this might impact on your Tier 4 Sponsor licence? I believe that this is one of the most important changes to Tier 4 compliance. However, it has been introduced largely “under the radar” and I am not convinced that UKVI fully considered the potential impact it can have on Tier 4 sponsors. Certainly those sponsors I have spoken to are unaware of the possible repercussions.
If an independent school, following an inspection by ISI, fails to meet the minimum requirements – in any way and on any subject (not necessarily in respect of Tier 4) – ISI is obliged to refer this to the UKVI (a memorandum of agreement between UKVI and ISI and QAA was signed in March 2015). In turn, UKVI will set CAS allowance to zero until such time as the ISI has carried out a further inspection.
The UKVI is seeking to rely on paragraph 7.3 of Document 2 of the Tier 4 Guidelines to Sponsors:
All sponsors must achieve and maintain one of the required ratings set out in Document 1 of the Tier 4 Sponsor Guidance (‘Applying for a Tier 4 licence’) following a statutory education inspection (or an Educational Oversight inspection, if this is required). If a publicly funded college fails to achieve the required rating in a statutory education inspection, it will be made a Legacy Sponsor. If an HEI or independent school fails to achieve the required rating in a statutory education inspection, its CAS allocation will be set to zero until it achieves the required rating in a subsequent inspection.
At the moment the UKVI is insisting that only the publication of a second, satisfactory, report will suffice for it to consider re-instating CAS. The time scale of organising a second visit, publishing the report and UKVI reviewing its decision may involve several weeks during which time the Tier 4 licence is suspended.
There are a number of issues:
- This cannot be proportionate (for a whole host of reasons) – we are taking this up directly with UKVI;
- It is clear that the reporting system is being applied inconsistently – we are taking this up with ISI and UKVI;
- The Tier 4 Compliance regime and that of ISI are intrinsically linked.
For more information – please contact Mark Taylor on firstname.lastname@example.org or attend our next training event at Royal High School in Bath on 7th March.