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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.

Detail

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