Tier 4 visa - Academic Progression and Time Limits

Find out how you can meet the academic progression requirement for a Tier 4 visa application from inside the UK.


  • Academic Progression

    Academic progression is an important part of your Tier 4 visa application, and will dictate whether you can make your visa application in the UK.

    You cannot make your Tier 4 visa application from inside the UK unless your new course represents academic progression from your previous course in the UK.

  • What does academic progression mean?
    You will be able to show academic progression if:
    • You have successfully completed (i.e. achieved the award for) your most recent course of study in the UK for which you were given a Tier 4 visa; AND
    • your new course is at a higher level than your previous course; OR
    • complements your previous course. This means that your new course must be a specialisation of your previous studies, or a new course which, combined with your previous studies, will allow you to achieve your career goals
    You do not need to show academic progression if:
    • You are making your Tier 4 application from outside the UK
    • You are applying to re-sit an exam or repeat a course, or you have previously resat an exam or repeated a course, and you need extra time to complete your course
    • You wish to undertake a period of study abroad or a work placement, or you have already done so, and you need extra time to complete your course
    • You are applying for more time to complete your PhD for which you were last granted a Tier 4 visa (including at a new sponsor)
    • You are applying to undertake a role as a Sabbatical Officer
    • You are applying under the Doctorate Extension Scheme

    The University will assess whether you meet the academic progression requirements before we issue you with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).

  • What are the time limits for a Tier 4 visa

    There are limits on how long you are permitted to study in the UK on a Tier 4 visa at different levels.

    Courses below degree level

    You are permitted to study courses below degree level in the UK with a Tier 4 visa for up to two years.

    Courses at degree level and above

    You are permitted to study courses at degree level and above with a Tier 4 visa for up to 5 years UNLESS:

    • You are studying an exempted subject (e.g. architecture)
    • You are studying a master’s degree after completing an undergraduate course which was 4 or 5 years in length.  In this case you must complete all your studies within 6 years
    • You are studying a research programme, such as a PhD

    o          If it is your first research programme, there will be no time limit on your studies

    o          If you have already completed a research degree with a Tier 4 visa, you must complete all of your studies (including previous courses) within 8 years (unless your previous programme was a research masters degree of less than 13 months)

  • How will the time limit be calculated?

    The time limit is linked to the duration of your Tier 4 visa rather than the duration of your course/s.  The time will normally be calculated from the start date of your first Tier 4 visa, until four months after you expect to complete your new course (i.e. the expiry date of a new Tier 4 visa). Any time during which you did not hold a valid Tier 4 visa will be discounted.

    You must be able to complete your new course within the limits unless:

    • The time limits will prevent you from studying a fifth academic year of study.  In this case you must be able to complete your new course within 5 years and 11 months, OR
    • You have completed a 4 or 5-year undergraduate course, and wish to study a master’s degree, and the time limits would prevent you from studying a sixth academic year.  In this case you must be able to complete your studies within 6 years and 11 months

    We cannot accept you to study a course with us if you would exceed these time limits.