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Visa and fee implications to changes of your programme

Changes during your studies includes, but is not limited to, the following circumstances:

  • Interrupting
  • Withdrawing
  • Changing your programme
  • Re-sits in, or out of attendance
  • Repeating part of your studies 

If any of these changes occur there could be implications to your Student immigration permission and tuition fee liability. It is also important to consider how these changes may affect your return to your studies, so please read this guidance carefully.  

Immigration reporting and curtailment

See guidance

Changing your programme

Changing your course could impact your immigration permission, you might need to return home to make a new application. Please read this information carefully to understand the requirements. 

You could change your programme, for example changing degree subject, adding or taking away a sandwich placement or changing from a four year MSci/Meng etc. to a three year BSc/BEng etc. You would need to discuss the academic requirements of the change with your School. 

Please refer to our guidance for information about how to transfer to a new programme of study. 

You will need to check that any changes to your studies would still be within the time limit cap. 

In most cases, if you are making an application for new immigration permission, you must meet the academic progression requirements. 

If after reading the information you are not sure whether the Immigration Rules would allow you to change programme, then contact a Welfare Adviser. 

If you have not yet applied for your Student visa

If you have not yet applied for your CAS 

If you change your programme before you have applied for your CAS then you should wait until the change of programme has been officially approved. You can then request a CAS and apply for your Student visa.  

If you have applied for your CAS  

If you have applied for your CAS then you should contact the Admissions Team (cas-admissions@qmul.ac.uk) once the course change has been approved to request that your CAS is updated to reflect your change in course. You can then apply for your Student visa. 

If your Student visa application is pending 

Please contact the Admissions Team at cas-admisions@qmul.ac.uk 

If you have been granted your Student Visa

If you have been granted your Student visa, you will need to check whether you can study on your current permission, or whether you will need to apply for new immigration permission, and if you can do so in the UK. 

You need more time in the UK to complete your new programme

Usually you will need to return home to make a new immigration application before you can start the new variation of your programme.  

However you can make an application in the UK if: 

  • you are progressing from a Bachelors to Masters as part of an integrated Masters programme (e.g. BEng/BSci to MEng/MSci) 
  • you are going to undertake a study abroad programme or work placement or you have previously completed a study abroad programme or work placement. In this case, you can apply for your new Student immigration permission before you start the work placement/study abroad or after you have completed your work placement/study abroad.  
  • you are applying to pursue an intercalating year as part of your medical or dental degree, or are returning to your original programme having completed your intercalated year. 
  • you are completing a PhD or other doctorate that you started studying under your last Student visa  

See the Academic Registry webpages for the Queen Mary Processes required to change programme of study.

If your programme requires ATAS clearance, or if you are financially sponsored, please check the relevant web pages to see if you will need to take any additional steps before you make your new immigration application. 

If you are sponsored by your government or other organisation, check that they will continue to fund you for your new programme of study. If not, you will need to find an alternative financial sponsor or other funds.  

You have enough time to complete your studies

You might want to change your course at Queen Mary and you will have enough time on your current immigration permission to complete your studies. This could mean you transfer to a new course which would be the same length as your original course, for example if you transfer from a one year Postgraduate programme to a different one year Postgraduate programme. You could also transfer to a course that has an earlier end date than your current course. For example, if you are studying a course with a year in an industrial placement, and you decide not to do the placement year.  

If you want to change your programme at Queen Mary, and you have enough time on your immigration permission to complete your programme, you can only change your programme if: 

  • Your Student visa was granted to study a full-time programme 
  • Your new programme is degree level or above 
  • Your new programme is not a lower level than the current programme 
  • You will be able to complete your new programme in the current period of permission 
  • If you have previously been granted Student immigration permission, Queen Mary must confirm that: 
    • Your new programme is related to the previous programme for which you were granted immigration permission as a Student, meaning it is either connected to the previous programme, part of the same subject group, or involves deeper specialisation 
    • the previous programme and the new programme in combination support your genuine career aspirations 

If you are permitted to change your programme, Queen Mary Immigration Compliance will notify UKVI of the change to your programme. This should not affect your immigration permission. You do not need to do anything else, but check whether you need ATAS clearance before you start the new programme. 

If you do not meet the above requirements, you will need to return to your home country to make a new application before changing your programme.  

If your programme requires ATAS clearance, or if you are financially sponsored, please check the relevant webpages to see if you will need to take any additional steps before you change your programme.  

If you are sponsored by your government or other organisation, check that they will continue to fund you for your new programme of study. If not, you will need to find an alternative financial sponsor or other funds.  

If your new course has an earlier end date than your current programme, when you complete the programme Queen Mary will notify the UKVI of your early completion and your immigration permission should be curtailed.

Medical students undertaking an intercalated degree

Whether your intercalated degree is at Queen Mary or at another Student visa sponsor, as long as you have enough immigration permission to undertake the intercalation, you do not need to make a new Student visa application before you start the intercalation. Queen Mary will notify the Home Office about the change to your studies. If you are intercalating at a different institution, that institution will be responsible for notifying UKVI of any relevant changes during that period, until you return to Queen Mary. When you need to extend your stay to complete your studies, you can make this application in the UK. You can choose to make this application before or after the intercalation. If you decided to make an immigration application before the intercalation Queen Mary would not be able to issue a CAS until the change of programme form has been processed. 

If you apply for your Student immigration permission from the UK before you undertake the intercalated year, you should be automatically issued with a refund for any overlapping periods of Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) which you pay.

Undertaking periods of PG research overseas

If you are a PGR student and your School and the Research Degrees Office agree that you can conduct your research overseas, and you will still complete your programme in the time scheduled, then you can ask them to liaise with the Immigration Compliance Team to confirm that you will still be studying during this time. If the period of research overseas is approved, then the Immigration Compliance Team will report this as a change of study location to UK Visas and Immigration. 
 
During this period, you will need to maintain regular contact with your supervisor and fulfil any requirements stipulated by the Research Degrees Office.

Studying elsewhere during period of interruption or re-sitting out of attendance

You need to check with your School whether you are able to take time out of your course and how long you can interrupt your study.   

Impact on Student immigration permission 

If you are in the UK with Student immigration permission and you interrupt your studies or re-sit out of attendance, Queen Mary will report this to UKVI and your visa should be curtailed.   

Student immigration permission and progression requirements 

If Queen Mary agrees that you can study elsewhere, you would normally need to apply for a Student visa for your new institution. As you would not have completed your course at Queen Mary, you would normally have to return home to make an immigration application to study elsewhere as your new institution will be unable to certify academic progression. 

You would normally have to return home to make your immigration application to resume your studies at Queen Mary because you would not meet the criteria to apply in the UK 

Time spent attending another course on Student immigration permission could also count towards the Time Limit (cap) on studies.  

Changes during your programme 

Interrupting your studies

Normally if you interrupt your studies for more than 60 days your visa will be curtailed.  

If you are in the UK on Student immigration permission you will not normally be allowed to remain in the UK while you are not attending your course. Please see our guidance about Immigration Reporting and Curtailment.  

Re-sitting out of attendance

If you are re-sitting out of attendance, Queen Mary will need to report this to UKVI, who will curtail your immigration permission and you will need to leave the UK before your curtailment end date - the new date that you immigration permission will end. 

For information about immigration options to return to the UK to do your re-sits, see the section of this guide "How and when do I apply for new immigration permission to undertake my re-sits?" 

Fees 

You do not usually have to pay tuition fees during your period out of attendance. There are no exam re-sit fees. 

Resitting a project or dissertation 

If you are resitting your project or dissertation, Queen Mary will not normally issue you with a CAS or provide you with any documentation to support any other type of immigration application on the basis of your studies because there is not normally a requirement for you to be in the UK. 

If you are resitting a project or dissertation, you should be able to do this outside of the UK.  

If you feel that you need physical access to the Library or other resources (though strictly speaking you shouldn't need to if the decision is that you are re-sitting out of attendance), then you can use the time between now and when your current immigration permission expires or is curtailed to use these resources. 

If you feel that you need to spend more time in the UK preparing your dissertation than your current Student immigration permission allows, contact Immigration Compliance (casinfo@qmul.ac.uk) to ask if this will be possible. They will need to contact your academic school to ask if they require you to be in the UK to prepare or submit your dissertation. It is unusual for an academic school to support this, but if they do, Registry may be able to issue you with a letter which you can use to apply to come to the UK as a Visitor. See section "How and when do I apply for new immigration permission to undertake my re-sits?”. 

How and when do I apply for new immigration permission to undertake re-sits?

If you have been studying with Student immigration permission, your immigration permission may have been curtailed and you should apply for new immigration permission before returning to the UK. 

If you attempt to travel on your existing Student immigration permission, you may be denied entry to the UK. 

What sort of immigration permission should I apply for? 

If you are returning to the UK to take re-sits only you may require Visitor Permission.  If you are intending to apply for the Graduate Route, then it is very important to read the Graduate Route information. Students who hold visitor permission are not eligible to apply.  

For most Undergraduate and Taught postgraduate courses there are two exam periods in the academic year. Exams are normally held in January and May. The late re-sit option in August remains in place. 

(Please note that the two exam periods do not apply to MBBS/BDS, some programmes taught outside of the UK, programmes with a January or April start date and some distance learning programmes). 

If you are due to take your re-sits in January and will immediately continue to attend Semester B you may have the option to apply for Student immigration permission to cover your re-sits and the remainder of your course.  

If you are due to take re-sits in May then continue to attend your course from the next Semester you may also have the option to apply for Student immigration permission. This would also cover your re-sits and the remainder of your course. For example this may be the case for you if you are undertaking re-sits in the second year of your undergraduate degree and will progress onto your third year if you successfully pass the re-sits. 

However, if you are taking re-sits only and will not be attending your course at the next available opportunity, you may have to make two (or more) visa applications. Here are some examples: 

You are returning to sit your January exams and will not be attending Semester B. 

  • You will require Visitor permission to sit your exams.  
  • Within 30 days of completing the exams you are required to leave the UK. 
  • You will require Student immigration permission to return to the UK to resume your study with attendance the following September. 

You are required to sit exams in January and May while out of attendance 

If you are not required to attend your course, it may be possible to obtain Visitor permission once so that it covers both exam dates.  

There are two issues to consider: 

  • you must clearly state in your application that you intend to sit exams in January and in May so that you do not have to leave within 30 days of completing the January exams and, 
  • The maximum period allowed in the UK with this immigration permission is 6 months so you must also consider when you want to obtain this immigration permission so that it covers both exam periods.  Timing is important. 

Remember you will not be able to work in the UK if you have Short term student immigration permission or Visitor Permission and will not be able to extend this. You will have to return home to apply for Student immigration permission if continuing to attend your studies or if you intend to apply for a different immigration category. 

If you are unsure of your immigration options, please contact a Welfare Adviser for advice. 

Our guides for Visitor permission and Student immigration permission explain how to apply and which documents you will need to support your application.  

What if I intend to apply for the Graduate route (post-study work) once I complete my course? 

To be eligible you must hold valid Student immigration permission at the time of your Graduate route application and you can only apply from inside the UK.  If you have Visitor permission, you will not be eligible. 

Please read our Graduate Route guidance for further information. 

I also need to attend my graduation ceremony - a warning about frequent and successive visits 

Visitor permission is granted for six months at a time. There is no rule that states a visitor can only remain in the UK for 6 out of any 12 months, but a UKVI decision maker will examine the pattern and frequency of visits to see that it does not amount to residence. 

If there will be a large gap between your exams and your graduation ceremony (this may be the case if you are studying a Master’s degree), you may need to apply for immigration permission and travel to and from the UK twice: once for your exams and once for your graduation ceremony.   

I will be resuming my studies after I have passed my re-sit exams. What should I do? 

If, after successfully completing your exams with Short-Term Student or Visitor immigration permission, you will be continuing your studies, you will have to return home again to make a further Student immigration application. 

How and when do I apply for new immigration permission to return to my studies?

What sort of immigration permission should I apply for? 

If you are returning to your studies, you will normally need to apply for new Student immigration permissionStudent immigration permission. 

What if I intend to apply for the Graduate route (post-study work) at the end of my course? 

Only international students who have successfully completed an eligible qualification at Queen Mary with valid Student immigration permission at the time of application will be eligible for the Graduate Route. 

Please read our webpage for more information about the Graduate Route including the eligibility criteria. 

Further guidance 

If you will be applying for Student immigration permission, we have produced guidance and video guides to help you apply which are available on our Student visas webapage.

Financial sponsorship while I am interrupting or re-sitting out of attendance

If you receive financial sponsorship from your government or other organisation, contact them as soon as you have arranged to interrupt or re-sit out of attendance. 

Check that they will continue to sponsor you after you return to your programme of study, and whether they will sponsor you during your period out of attendance. If they will not sponsor you during this time, you will need to make alternative financial arrangements. 

You may be required to make a new student immigration application to obtain new student immigration permission to resume your study and attend your course.  If you have been sponsored in the 12 months before the date of this application by a government or international Sponsorship agency for tuition fees and living expenses you will need the sponsor’s specific consent for your new student immigration permission application. This consent is required even if you will be self-funded for the new period of study. You will need a letter from your financial sponsor confirming that they give their consent for your immigration application. If you do not provide this letter with your application, it will be invalid. This can have financial and immigration implications. 

For further information please refer to our guidance to applying for Student immigration permission and read the information about funds for your student visa application.  

Re-taking a period of study in attendance

Re-taking a period of study in attendance is offered in extremely limited circumstances. Students are expected to interrupt their studies if they are not fit to engage with their studies effectively. 

However, if you have an extenuating circumstances claim approved by Queen Mary, you might be granted a re-take in attendance as part of your claim.  

If you are granted a re-take in attendance, you must make sure that you have enough funding for this, as you will usually have to pay tuition fees and living costs for the extra period of time. 

Medical and Dental students are usually required to re-take the whole academic year in attendance if they have interrupted their studies or need to re-sit exams.  

You must make sure that you have sufficient funds to pay for your tuition fees and maintenance costs for your extra period of study.  

If you are sponsored by your government or other organisation, please see the relevant information. 

What about my Student immigration permission? 

If you do not have to interrupt your studies and/or you will not have any gaps in attendance on your course, your Student immigration permission should continue as normal. However as you are likely to take longer to complete your course than expected, your Student immigration permission may no longer cover the full length of your course and you will need to apply for additional Student immigration permission in order to complete it.  Check if you can make this application in the UK or will be required to leave the UK and apply from your home country. For more information see the guidance on changes to your programme.  

If you have an authorised absence from your School which means that you will interrupt your course for less than 60 days, and you can still complete your studies within your existing Student immigration permission, this would not be reported to UIKVI. In this case your Student immigration permission would not be curtailed and you can continue to study using your current Student immigration permission. 

If your Student permission will not cover the remainder of your course and you need more time in the UK to complete your studies then please see our guidance.  

Tuition fees and refunds

Interrupting your studies

This information is taken from the Queen Mary University of London Tuition Fee Regulations. 

The following table explains what you will have to pay depending on when you interrupt your studies and when your school agrees you can return. 

Fee liability following an interruption

Start of interruption

Resuming study at the start of semester 1 the following academic year

Resuming study at the start of semester 2, the following academic year

Interrupting at any time during semester 1:
You will be liable for 100% of your tuition fee for this academic year and…

You will be liable for the whole tuition fee for the following academic year.

You will be liable for 50% of the tuition fee for the following academic year

Interrupting at any time during semester 2:

You will be liable for 100% of your tuition fee for this academic year and…

You will be liable for the whole tuition fee for the following academic year.

You will be liable for 50% of the tuition fee for the following academic year.

International students who interrupt their studies before the start of the second semester will not normally get a refund unless they meet one of the exceptions set out in the Tuition Fee Regulations, section 16.1. 

You may, at the discretion of Queen Mary, be allowed to credit 50% of the overseas university fees paid in the year you interrupt against the fees charged when you resume studies the following academic year. 

International students who interrupt their studies during the 2nd semester will not be allowed to carry forward any part of the fees towards future fee charges. 

Taught postgraduate students who interrupt will be charged tuition fees at the rate applicable to the academic year in which they resume their studies i.e. a student who interrupts their studies in an academic year and returns the following year will pay fees at the following year tuition fee rate when they return: 

Resume at start of Semester 1 100% of annual fee is due 
Resume at start of Semester 2 50% of annual fee is due 

Taught Masters students who start their course in September and who wish to interrupt after the May exams and before their project period can do this once the exam period is over. The deadline for interrupting in these circumstances is 30 June 2022. In this circumstance when they return the following year they will only pay the difference between the annual tuition fee payable in their year of interruption and the annual tuition fee payable in the year of resumption.  The amount of this increase is confirmed by the Fees Office in June each year and this may be an additional substantial cost to meet. However, if your interruption was due a protected characteristic as listed in the Queen Mary Fee regulations such as pregnancy and maternity, disability or gender re-assignment and your interruption was agreed on this basis, when you resume your study the increase would be kept at the 2021/22 inflationary increase of 1.8%. The reason for the protected characteristics must be made clear at the point of interruption. Contact the Fees Office for further information. 

Retaking in attendance 

You may be retaking all or part of an academic year. Normally you will pay the tuition fee of the new cohort you are joining in your retake year. However, if you are retaking due to pregnancy or disability, instead you would normally be allowed to pay the same rate of tuition fee that you paid in your previous academic year, plus the annual inflationary fee increase. The amount of this increase is confirmed by the Fees Office each June. 

Resitting out of Attendance 

You do not usually have to pay tuition fees during your period out of attendance and there are no resit fees. 

Transferring to a new university 

If you have personal or academic reasons why you want to transfer to a different university, you may be entitled to a refund of some of your tuition fees. If you have paid your tuition fees for the year in full and you transfer before the start of semester 2, you may be entitled to a refund of 50% of your tuition fee. Refunds can only be paid directly to the university that you are transferring to. The Queen Mary Fees Office can advise you about whether the university you are transferring to will qualify you for a refund. You will need to have an unconditional offer for your new course before this is considered. 

If you transfer in Semester 2, you will be liable for the full tuition fee for the academic year and you will not receive a refund. If you have not paid your tuition fee in full the Fees Office may instruct a debt collection agency to recover the remaining fee for the academic year.

Withdrawal 

If you withdraw from your programme of study after enrolment you will be liable for your full tuition fee for the academic year unless you have exceptional circumstances (see below).  In the Tuition Fees Regulations these are called Protected characteristics. If you have not paid your tuition fee in full the Fees Office may instruct a debt collection agency to recover the remaining fee for the academic year.

Exceptional circumstances 

The Tuition Fee Regulations explain that if you have to withdraw from your programme of study before the start of Semester 2 due to: 

  • a serious illness which rendered the student unfit to continue studies 
  • the death of a parent or carer, spouse or child 
  • you fail to enrol for any programme of study 
  • you transfer to another higher education institution funded by UK government and 
    have permission from the Head of School to do so. 

you will only be liable for 50% of your tuition fees. If you are granted a refund due to one of the above reasons and you are subject to UK immigration control, you must provide documentary evidence that you have left the UK, are now exempt from UK immigration control or have been granted immigration permission on some other basis (such as transfer to another UK university).  

If your circumstances don’t exactly match those listed above, but you wish to explain your reasons for withdrawal and whether you can be exceptionally considered for a refund, you should discuss your case with the Fees Office. 

The Fees Office contact details are: 

  • Queens Building W117 
  • Tel: +44(0)20 7882 7676 or +44 (0)20 7882 3685 or +44 (0)20 7882 7775 
  • Email: fees@qmul.ac.uk 

If you withdraw after the start of semester 2, even if you have exceptional circumstances, you will be liable to pay the full tuition fee for the year. 

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