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Simon Kenny from Moore Blatch

Academies: be vigilant to changes in immigration rules

Overseas students over 16 are no longer able to study at certain schools, says Moore Blatch

Posted by Stephanie Broad | September 03, 2015 | Law, finance, HR

Immigration is a fast-paced area of law seeing a considerable amount of change; with increasing pressure on the government to reduce net migration figures, overseas students are likely to be affected by future changes. It is important that academies as well as other educational institutions monitor these to make sure they are compliant. 

Simon Kenny, head of immigration at Moore Blatch, says: “In July of this year, important new immigration provisions affecting overseas students were announced. The new rules mean that the Tier 4 immigration category, which refers to overseas students that are 16 and over, will now be prevented from studying at academies or schools maintained by a local authority. 

“This change will now prevent these students from coming to the UK for further education courses designed to prepare them for entry to higher education, such as degree pathway programmes. 

“We are aware of some academies that have applied for a Tier 4 licence successfully as well as academies that advertise their availability of courses internationally – this new rule could see a significant reduction in the number of overseas students currently studying with them. 

“Those academies that hold a sponsor licence should consider whether there are any students that are sponsored by them at present that may require an extension of stay and, if so, how they may be able to qualify for that.   

“As well as this, thought should be given to a transition plan in respect of the education of any such children, especially if it proves impossible to keep them studying in the UK for the necessary period. 

“But it is not only new overseas students that academies must consider, immigration concerns can also arise with long term students that may have been studying at academies for some time. 

Moore Blatch education expert, Janata Ali says that some academies are choosing to informally exclude pupils due to their immigration status, with students and their families appealing these decisions. 

Janata comments: “From what we are seeing, even if a child’s immigration status is in question – academies can leave themselves open to criticism if they automatically choose to withdraw the child’s school place on this basis and informally exclude especially where a child has a long history with the school and has studied there for many years. 

In these circumstances, students can challenge a school’s decision to informally exclude by way of Judicial Review. 

She continues: “When circumstances like this arise, naturally many academies will be concerned to ensure that they are compliant with immigration rules, as well as making certain that suitable funding is available for the pupil. In relation to academies, confirmation of this could be required from the Secretary of State for Education which will provide peace of mind to the school and pupil. 

“In our experience, the Secretary of State has been willing to ensure funding for pupils with a long history of study in the UK despite uncertainty around the student’s immigration status or application.”    

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