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In July 2011 the Home Office confirmed details of new arrangements for the ‘educational oversight’ of private colleges which sponsor international students. These arrangements are a key part of the drive to improve standards of educational quality and immigration compliance which lies at the heart of the reforms to Tier 4 of the points based system.

The arrangements which will be in place after 2012 for those private education providers who are subject to the educational oversight regime introduced in 2011. In summary:

  • sponsors will be subject to full assessments every 4 years;
  • there will be intermediate ‘health check’ assessments, with the frequency dependent on the outcome of their previous inspection; and
  • full assessments will be triggered at an earlier stage than the normal 4-year cycle if circumstances change (see below) or if health checks reveal any issues to be addressed.

In addition, there will be a 3 month window this year for new applications for educational oversight from private education providers. If a provider successfully obtains educational oversight they will then be able to apply to join the Tier 4 sponsor register.


Under the BIA educational oversight arrangements, all Tier 4 sponsors are required to satisfactorily pass an assessment by one of the 8 independent bodies with 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:

  • 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 will be interesting to see how private colleges will respond to these changes, please leave your comment