UK Tier 4 Masters Degree Visa Pilot - Information for Postgraduate Students |
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Posted on 1 Jan '19

UK Tier 4 Masters Degree Visa Pilot - Information for Postgraduate Students

Please note: the Tier 4 visa pilot closed in October 2020 to make way for the new Graduate Route post-study work visa. Information here describes the scheme as it ran between 2017 and 2020.

27 UK universities currently participate in the Tier 4 visa pilot scheme for Masters students, making it easier to apply for a visa and increasing the time you can spend in the UK after you graduate.

We've explained how the scheme works, what difference it makes to students and which universities are involved.

Note that this pilot scheme is separate to the new UK two-year post-study work visas that are due to be introduced for all international graduates from summer 2021.

What is the Tier 4 pilot?

The Tier 4 pilot simplifies the UK's points-based visa system for overseas students. It only applies to international students on postgraduate Masters courses.

Students who apply for a visa under the pilot will be able to:

  • Submit less evidence - You won't need to provide transcripts of course or qualification certificates, or evidence of maintenance funds.
  • Stay longer after graduation - You'll be able to remain in the country for six months after your course finishes (rather than four).

Note that all other normal UK visa and immigration requirements still apply. The new pilot simply lowers the amount of evidence required. You must still possess sufficient maintenance funds and properly accredited qualifications.

Which universities are participating?

The pilot visa scheme came into effect at four universities in July 2016. It was then extended to an additional 23 universities in December 2017.

The following 27 universities are currently able to offer student visas under the scheme:

UK Postgraduate Visa Pilot - Participating Universities
University Country Joined Pilot
University of Bath England 2016
University of Bristol England 2017
University of Cambridge England 2016
Cardiff University Wales 2017
Durham University England 2017
University of East Anglia England 2017
University of Edinburgh Scotland 2017
University of Essex England 2017
University of Exeter England 2017
University of Glasgow Scotland 2017
Goldsmiths, University of London England 2017
Harper Adams University England 2017
Imperial College London England 2016
University of Leicester England 2017
University of Liverpool England 2017
University of Manchester England 2017
Newcastle University England 2017
University of Nottingham England 2017
University of Oxford England 2016
Queen's University, Belfast Northern Ireland 2017
University of Reading England 2017
Royal Central College of Speech & Drama England 2017
University of Sheffield England 2017
University of Southampton England 2017
University of Wales, Trinity St David Wales 2017
University of Warwick England 2017
University of York England 2017

All of the above universities will be able to sponsor students under the new Tier 4 pilot visa scheme for courses beginning in the 2018-19 academic year.

Which courses are eligible?

The pilot visa scheme only applies to postgraduate Masters degrees.

In order to be eligible your degree course must last no longer than 13 months. This will include most taught programmes such as MA and MSc degrees, but research Masters (such as the MRes or MPhil) may not be suitable.

Undergraduate and PhD-level programmes are also not eligible.

Which students are eligible?

The scheme is open to all international students who are studying a Masters at a participating university. Eligibility is not restricted to specific countries or nationalities.

If you aren't sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, check our guide.

Where can I find out more?

Your university will be able to confirm whether your course is eligible under the new visa pilot (provided it is one of the participating institutions).

We'll also be following any changes in the scheme with updates here on the blog and via our newsletter.

For more information on the UK student visa system as a whole, see our guide to Tier 4 visas for Masters degrees.

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Last updated: 01 January 2019