Student Visa Information
Studying in the UK

How have visa applications changed?

Over the past two years, visa applications have changed, introducing a ‘sponsorship system’. In order to apply for a student visa, the student’s proposed school, college or university must have a Tier 4 sponsor license. The student’s proposed school will then sponsor their visa and consequently the student’s visa is specifically linked to their course. Whereas in previous years, students had a non-specific visa, meaning they were free to move from school to school, now students can only change course or school with permission from UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration).

What kind of visa do students need?

Students will need a Tier 4 student visa (either Child or General) to study in the UK. They will not be permitted to study on a tourist visa. Students should also be aware that many visa types are not transferrable onto other tiers within the UK, so students are strongly advised to research their options carefully before deciding to come to the UK, otherwise they may get sent back to their home country and have to apply for a new visa.

What is the difference between a Child or a General student?

Broadly speaking if a student is under 18, they are a Child student. If the student is over 18, they are a General student. However, if a student is 16 or 17, they can be classed as either a Child or General student. Students are advised to consult an admissions officer at Ashbourne who will advise the student on their visa application.

Are students required to have a visa to study in the UK?

If a student does not hold a British or European passport, it is very likely they will need a visa to study in the UK. If they are unsure about whether they will need a visa or not, they should complete the online questionnaire at the link below:


Note that if a student has a British National Overseas or a British Territorial passport they will still need a visa to participate in a course lasting longer than months months in the UK.

If a student already has a UK visa can they change schools?

If a student currently has a valid UK student visa and is looking to change schools, this is usually possible. If their student visa was issued prior to 5/10/2009, they can transfer the visa sponsorship to Ashbourne by simply sending an email to UKBA. If their visa was issued after 5/10/2009, they must apply for a new student visa. However, if their sponsor has HTS (Highly Trusted Sponsor) status, they will be able to start their course before their new visa is approved. This is only applicable if the student still has leave to remain in the UK. If the student’s visa was approved before the introduction of Tier 4, they can change courses freely without approval from the UKVI.

Further advice

Visa applications can be frustrating and confusing, particularly if English is not the student’s first language. Students are strongly advised to allow Ashbourne’s admissions team to check over their visa application before they submit it. Equally, students may wish to contact educational or visa services agent in their home country before they apply.