Educational oversight of Tier 4 sponsors: enhanced role for QAA and ISI.

In March the Home Secretary announced changes to Tier 4 of the points-based system for student visas.

A key part of the reforms is to strengthen the conditions which an education provider has to satisfy before they are allowed by the UK Border Agency to ‘sponsor’ an international student to study in the UK. This involves the oversight of their education provision and their compliance with immigration requirements.

As regards educational oversight, they announced that from the end of 2012 all sponsors would need to have had a satisfactory inspection or review by one of a number of specified bodies who are involved in the delivery of the regulatory framework for educational standards in the UK (‘the educational oversight bodies’). The full list of approved educational oversight bodies is set out. This is a shorter list than the previous one.

The UK Border Agency announces that the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) and the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) have agreed in principle to extend their activities to carry out additional reviews as follows:

QAA will review:

other private higher education providers offering courses normally awarded in accordance with the Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications; and

’embedded’ colleges offering courses as a pathway into higher education.

ISI will inspect privately funded further education colleges offering courses on the QCF/NQF, and also English language schools.

This forms the enhanced role for QAA and ISI.