http://jamaica-gleaner.com/images/2010/logo.pngDear Mr Bassie,
It is my intention to go to the United Kingdom (UK) and study at a tertiary institution. My relatives who live in the UK have advised me that there are some changes that are coming with respect to those institutions which will qualify as a sponsor for international students.
Could you please let me know if any changes will be forthcoming?
Thanks in advance.
- H.P.

Dear H.P.,
Thank you for your email.
There have been some fairly new arrangements that have been put in place by the United Kingdom Home Office with respect to the 'educational oversight' of private colleges which sponsor international students. The object of these new arrangements is to improve the standards of educational quality and immigration compliance, which are the driving force behind the reforms to Tier 4 of the points-based system.
The latest educational oversight regime that was introduced in 2011, and which has come into place after 2012 for those private education providers who are subject to the educational oversight regime, provides for the following, in summary:
Sponsors will be subject to full assessments every four years and there will be intermediate 'health check' assessments. The frequency will be dependent on the outcome of the institution's previous inspection. It should also be noted that full assessments will be triggered at an earlier stage than the normal four-year cycle if circumstances change, or if any of the health checks reveal that there are any issues to be addressed. If a provider makes an application and successfully obtains educational oversight, they will then be able to apply to join the Tier 4 sponsor register.
Under the UK authorities educational oversight arrange-ments, all Tier 4 sponsors are required to satisfactorily pass an assessment by one of the eight independent bodies which play an existing role in the formal regulation of education in the UK. The following designated bodies provide oversight to privately funded colleges offering higher and further education and English language courses. These are: The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education; Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education (Scotland); the Education and Training Inspectorate (Northern Ireland); the Independent Schools Inspectorate; the School Inspection Service; and the Bridge Schools Inspectorate.
It should be noted that publicly funded providers and other institutions that have a current and satisfactory full inspection, review, or audit from the appropriate designated body under the system of public reviews will continue to meet the educational oversight requirements.
Privately funded colleges in England and Wales that would like to obtain educational oversight as part of an application to join the Tier 4 sponsor register will be able to do so between July 23 and October 22, 2012. However, privately funded colleges in Scotland will be able to apply between September 3 and November 5, 2012, but providers in Northern Ireland should check with the Education and Training Inspectorate Northern Ireland on the window for applications.
In addition, it is worth noting that the Home Office has agreed with the oversight bodies that these windows will be time-limited, and this is to enable them to plan their assessment schedules for the upcoming year. However, any new applicant must have established a track record of at least one year of teaching prior to applying for educational oversight. The full assessments of new applicants will begin in 2013 and will start the sponsor's four-year educational oversight cycle. The entire cycle will then repeat annually to allow new sponsors to join the register.
John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator, and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association (UK). Email: lawbassie@yahoo.com.