Child students - Tier 4 (Child)
Your course of study
This page explains the types of course that you can study as a child student under Tier 4 of our points-based system.
You must study a course at an acceptable level, and you should check to see what the requirements are for each type of course are.
You can do a short preparatory course if you need one before starting your main course of study. If you are 16 or 17, you can do a work placement as part of your course.
As well as being at an acceptable level, your course must be provided by an education provider which has a Tier 4 (Child) sponsor licence. For more information, see the Your education provider page.
What courses can you do?
A child student can do a course that is:
- taught in line with the National Curriculum; or
- taught in line with the National Qualifications Framework (NQF); or
- accepted as being at the same academic level as the National Curriculum or the NQF by Ofsted in England, the Education and Training Inspectorate in Northern Ireland, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education in Scotland or Estyn in Wales; or
- taught in line with existing (prevailing) independent school education inspection standards.
Additionally, you can do a short course to prepare you for your main course of study, if your chosen main course meets one of the conditions above. These short courses are sometimes called 'pre-sessional' courses.
If you are a child student who is at least 16 years old, you can do a work placement as part of your course of study, provided that the work placement is an assessed part of the course. The work placement must be no more than 50 per cent of the length of the course in the UK, unless there is a legal (statutory) requirement for the course to contain a specific period of work placement.
Example. You can study for an NVQ level 3 qualification with a work placement run concurrently with the course: 15 hours' classroom study per week with your education provider, plus 15 hours' work placement. Any additional hours worked during the week may be allowed as part of your entitlement to work part-time during term-time (see the 'Conditions of your stay' page), but these additional hours cannot be an assessed part of the course. You will need to arrange them directly with the employer - they cannot be arranged by your education provider.
If you are coming to the UK to do a 'study abroad' programme as part of a higher education course at an overseas higher education institution, you may do a work placement as part of the programme as long as it is no more than 50 per cent of the length of your study in the UK.
Child students who are under 16 are not allowed to work in the UK, so they cannot do work placements as part of their course of study here.
Pre-sessional course to prepare you for a main course of study
A pre-sessional course to prepare you for study is an intensive English language course, or any other course you take to prepare you for your main course of study in the UK. The pre-sessional course must be at the acceptable level for Tier 4 (Child) students, but it does not need to lead to a qualification.
(If the pre-sessional course is below the acceptable level, you may want to apply under a different immigration route. However, you cannot switch into Tier 4 if you are in the UK as a child visitor or student visitor - you will need to leave the UK at the end of the short course and apply from overseas for permision to study your main course here.)
If you have a unconditional offer
If you have an unconditional offer of a place on your main course of study at an independent school, we may give you permission to study in the UK for both your pre-sessional course and your main course. We will only do this if your pre-sessional course will be:
- at the same independent school as your main course; and
- the combioned duration of the pre-sessional course and the main course will not exceed the maximum permission to stay for a Tier 4 (Child) student).
Your education provider will need to assign you a single confirmation of acceptance for studies that covers both the pre-sessional course and the main course.
If you have a conditional offer
If you only have a conditional offer of a place on your main course of study, or if your pre-sessional course provider is separate from your main course provider, you will need to apply to us for permission to do the pre-sessional course first.
If you successfully complete the pre-sessional course, you can apply from inside the UK to extend your stay under Tier 4 and do your main course.