An update on the latest UK Home Office immigration rules and guidance, effective from 6 April 2017


On 6 April 2017 the latest changes to the UK’s immigration system came into effect.

Key changes include:

  • The introduction of a skills levy for Tier 2 Sponsors
  • The expansion of criminal record checks for certain job roles
  • Failure of basic compliance assessment is now a serious breach of sponsor compliance for Tier 4 sponsors
  • UK NARIC statements can be used to demonstrate English language proficiency at the appropriate level rather than at just C1

Skills levy

This will be levied on employers who employ migrants in skilled jobs. Set at £1,000 per employee per year, with a reduced rate of £364 for small or charitable organisations.

Criminal records checks

A criminal record certificate requirement has been extended to Tier 2 skilled worker applicants in the education, health and social care sectors.

Tier 2 applicants from non-EEA countries in these employment sectors now need to present a criminal record certificate. This is also the case for any adult dependants of the applicant.

A list of the job roles that are subject to this requirement can be found in the Tier 2 section of the UKVI website.

Failure of basic compliance assessment is now a serious breach

Tier 4 sponsors should be aware that failing their basic compliance assessment is now considered a ‘serious breach’.

A serious breach can lead to a ‘Compliance Track 2’ process which, in the majority of cases, will mean that the sponsor will be removed from the Tier 4 Register of Sponsors whilst UKVI investigates.

It is therefore imperative that Tier 4 sponsors ensure that they make fully informed decisions, with thorough record-keeping, about their international applicants for study.

A range of UK NARIC services for organisations is available to help universities, colleges and schools understand more about international education systems and international qualifications.

UK NARIC also offers training to support Tier 4 sponsors.

More information about Tier 4 and information for Tier 4 sponsors is available on the UKVI website.

UK NARIC statements for English language

Presenting their qualifications that are at least comparable to UK Bachelor level (with UK NARIC statements evidencing the comparability) has been one of the ways in which migrants to the UK can demonstrate their English language proficiency.

The 6 April 2017 changes to the immigration rules have extended the use of UK NARIC statements to all CEFR levels. Previously, UK NARIC statements could be used to demonstrate only CEFR level C1.

This means that UK NARIC statements can now be used to demonstrate the appropriate level of English language skills to support applications to UKVI for – work; study; family; settlement; citizenship; and naturalisation.

There is more information about using UK NARIC English language statements for immigration purposes on other pages of this blog.


“Comparable to British Bachelor degree standard”: what does this comparison statement mean?


Some UK NARIC evaluations state that an award can be “considered comparable to British Bachelor degree standard”.

This might appear in UK NARIC statements of comparability issued to individuals, or in our qualification databases used by educational institutions and employers.

Some of our users are unclear about how to treat this evaluation – is it Bachelor Hons, Bachelor Ordinary, or a more general statement?

To get to the crux of the matter first – this comparability is in relation to degree-level qualifications from a national education system as a whole. The comparability is made to ‘British Bachelor standard’ because it is not possible to make a comparison to Ordinary or Honours standard for all degree qualifications from that system across the board.

Therefore, when it comes to assessing the qualifications held by an individual – for example, if you are an admissions officer looking at an application for entry – then in these cases, you will need to delve into more detail on what the applicant has studied, before deciding if the individual’s degree is closer to Ordinary or Honours standard. For example, you will probably have to examine an individual transcript, and perhaps look at how much independent study has been done, and whether a dissertation has been completed.

To give wider context, it’s worth considering the relatively specialised character of upper secondary studies in the British school system. Pupils typically narrow their focus to three or four subjects aged 16 (or perhaps five in Scotland). These relatively tightly focused qualifications can be used for entry into Bachelor degrees which are usually fairly specialised from the outset.

In contrast, many international school pupils continue to study in excess of 10 subjects right through to the end of upper secondary.

This UK upper secondary approach feeds through to the first year or two of UK Bachelor courses, with Honours programmes normally characterised by more independent research and a dissertation in the final year.

In some countries, the huge number of autonomous institutions, and differences in quality assurance structures, mean that standards and course content can vary considerably.

While some programmes require a high level of specialisation and independent research, others are more general and include a high proportion of taught content. Courses in the first category could be considered comparable to a British Honours degree: those in the second category, probably not. Yet all graduates from that national system would potentially be awarded the same qualification title.

It is in these situations that UK NARIC cannot guarantee that all degree qualifications from that country will be Honours standard across the board. Some may be, however. So a more nuanced judgement has to be made in individual cases, depending on an analysis of the transcript and other factors such as the presence or absence of a dissertation.

There is one other type of situation which leads to a British Bachelor standard comparability statement. It lies in those national education systems, typically in countries with close historical ties to the UK, which have retained a clear distinction between the Ordinary and Honours degrees, but where the Ordinary degree is by far the more common.

In these cases, learning outcomes of Ordinary degree programmes can be comparable to British Honours level. However, with these national systems, it is hard to justify a UK Honours comparability for Ordinary degrees, because of the existence of the higher Honours award in-country.

Again, in individual cases, transcripts would have to be examined, and a view taken on the particular course undertaken by the applicant, to decide if it is closer to Ordinary or Honours level.

In all of the above situations, the key point is that the British Bachelor standard comparability relates to the national education system rather than an individual qualification or individual person holding that qualification.

Ultimately, for these national systems, it would be misleading to provide a general Honours level comparability statement when that standard cannot be universally guaranteed across all that country’s degree courses.

In individual cases, a British Bachelor standard comparability should not be regarded as saying that an individual’s degree from that country is below UK Honours comparability. And it should not necessarily exclude an individual from being considered for UK postgraduate study.

 

If your organisation is a member of UK NARIC, then you might be able to use our Member Enquiry service if you are having trouble evaluating a particular qualification. For more information on this, UK NARIC members can contact their Account Manager.


Jump in traffic to UK NARIC’s Visas & Nationality service following Brexit vote


Following the ‘Brexit’ result in the EU referendum, there has been an increase of over 60% in web traffic to UK NARIC’s Visas & Nationality service.

The Visas & Nationality service supports applications through the points based system of immigration and for migrants wishing to settle in the UK. 

In the week following the vote, numbers of visitors to the Visas & Nationality web pages leapt to over 1.6 times the pre-referendum average. 

UK-based visitors to the V&N web pages doubled. Migrants who are already living in the UK can apply for extensions to their current visa, or apply for settlement, citizenship or naturalisation. Visitor numbers from other EU countries were up over a third. 

This could reflect some of the uncertainties on EU mobility and free movement post-referendum, and may mean we can expect applications from EU citizens seeking to settle in the UK.  

We will soon see if web traffic and interest translates into actual applications. 

So far, since the launch of the Visas & Nationality service on 6 April (it replaces the old online Points Based Calculator), only 4% of applications for purposes of settlement, citizenship and naturalisation have come from nationals of other EU countries. If any changes in this pattern do emerge, it should be immediately noticeable.

 

 

 


UK NARIC and English language for immigration purposes


English LanguageUnder the immigration rules, there are five ways to prove that you meet the English language proficiency requirements:

  • being a citizen of a majority English language speaking country
  • having passed a Secure English Language Test (SELT) at the appropriate level
  • having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK Bachelor’s degree, Masters degree or PhD
  • having met the requirement in a previous grant of leave
  • or special arrangements during a transition period.

In order to satisfy the third of these requirements there are two aspects that UK NARIC has to look at:

  • is the qualification at least Bachelor level?
  • was it taught in English?

For immigration purposes the first part is relatively easy for UK NARIC to determine; all you need to send are copies of your degree certificate, transcript and diploma supplement (and translations of these documents, if they are not in English). This will enable us to do a comparison of your qualification.

The second aspect is slightly more complex. If the qualification was studied in a majority English language speaking country, then all that is required is confirmation of the level of the qualification. A normal UK NARIC qualification comparison, based on the documents above, will be fine.

If the qualification was studied elsewhere then a Medium of Instruction letter from the awarding institution needs to be sent. This confirms that the qualification was taught (or researched) in English.

 

What do I need to send?

When you apply to UK NARIC through the Visas and Nationality application portal you will be told what documents you need to send to us so that we are able to assess and evaluate your qualification.

Here is a list of what you need to send:

  • a photocopy or scanned version of your final certificate(s)
  • a photocopy or scanned version of your final transcript(s)
  • a photocopy or scanned version of a certified translation in English if necessary
  • payment for the service

If you are using our services to provide evidence of your English language proficiency, then we will ALSO need:

  • evidence of the medium of instruction to confirm that the qualification was taught or researched in English. In other words, a Medium of Instruction letter (an MOI letter).

We have an example on our website (PDF) for your reference.

 

Do I always need to send a medium of instruction letter?

The approach we have taken with our new UK NARIC Visas and Nationality service is to have an intelligent immigration-specific application portal which takes into account your circumstances and your immigration application route and then makes clear the documents you need to send us, to enable us to then issue qualification statements or English language statements as appropriate.

If the Medium of Instruction is a relevant issue, then we always ask for an MoI letter.

This ensures consistency within the process, and helps ensure its integrity, and treats all applicants in the same manner, thus it is fair.

If the logic behind the application portal detects that MoI is not relevant to an application, then it is not asked for. The application portal lists the documents that you need to upload, during the application process. MoI will be listed if it is required. MoI is not listed if it is not required.

So the position on MoI should be clear, when you apply.

 

 

If you want to check the official immigration rules, then the Home Office website is the place to go.

 

 

 


Benchmarking the Advanced Programme: English


This article was first published on the ECCTIS Blog

The Independent Examinations Board in South Africa has recently added the Advanced Programme: English to their suite of qualifications.  The IEB conducted a pilot study of the AP: English in 2011, with the national roll-out being launched in 2012.  The AP: English is a new qualification offered by the IEB in addition to the National Senior Certificate, intended to provide the opportunity for students to study English in further depth and increase the number of students following programmes including English at tertiary level.  It followed the launch of the then newly developed National Senior Certificate and AP: Mathematics in 2010.

Following the benchmarking study undertaken in 2010, which examined the NSC and AP: Mathematics, this study sought to benchmark the AP: English against UK qualifications.  It confirmed that the AP: English can be considered comparable to GCE Advanced level standard.

Exemplar GCE A level programmes were used to assist with the benchmarking study.  The majority of the core components of the GCE A level programmes were also covered by the AP: English, although some differences were observed in the entry requirements and the content of the programmes.  However, these differences were deemed to be due to cultural differences between the two systems rather than an indication of disparities in academic level.  There were clear links between assessment standards and objectives, as well as the depth and breadth of the programmes in providing the skills required for tertiary study. This resulted in the following comparable level:

Independent Examinations Board Programme Comparability
Advanced Programme English Is considered comparable to GCE A level standard

Further information on the IEB AP: English can be found on the IEB website.  For information on the project work undertaken, please contact mailto:projects@naric.org.uk.

 


The factors and criteria involved in graduate recruitment: A Russian case study


This article first appeared on the ECCTIS blog

How important are higher education degree marks in Russian graduate job searches? Do employers look at and consider GPAs? The question is quite complicated and has no clear answer.

Of course, there is no unique methodology or official guidance on how to recruit, or which criteria should be considered. Therefore, every employer has the right to set their own criteria and rules for the review of applications for vacancies. After all, is something like this not happening in many countries around the world?

So why is the situation in Russia more complicated than in other countries?

The first complication is the lack of a GPA on the final diploma. Individual subjects are listed, but if employer wishes to identify the average score, they need to calculate it themselves. This is more common with foreign recruiters who are used to operating with this indicator during the initial stage of selection process.

However, Russian employers are unlikely to bother with this calculation, deeming it unnecessary. Traditionally, simply having a diploma is a sufficient factor for initial screening. Until recently, it was fashionable for employers to ask for a degree for any job, even for the post of a cleaner. But when competitiveness started to increase and Russian enterprises and companies with foreign capital became more careful with recruiting processes, HR departments began to pay more attention to other factors: degree specialisation, the list of subjects the student passed during the course and, finally, marks in individual subject areas, as well as the topics of the completed thesis and coursework. This information can be found on the transcript.

In Russia, there are two types of diplomas at each level of higher education, so-called “blue” and “red”. They are called so because of the colour of the documents. “Red” diplomas refer to honours degrees (there will be specific reference to ‘honours’ on the document). Unlike in the UK, this does not mean that a person studied more advanced course, rather that the student has obtained a very high average grade. In order to obtain a “red” diploma, a student must not get any “satisfactory” marks during the entire study period, and the total percentage of “excellent” marks must not be less than 75% within the designated timeframe. Also marks for the thesis and the state exam must be “excellent”.

“Blue” diplomas are issued for all other students who have successfully completed the course. Several factors should be taken into account. Firstly, there is no further distinction. So it is not known (without a thorough study of the transcript), what percentage of “excellent” marks a person with a “red” diploma has obtained, or how successfully a “blue” diploma holder completed the course (after all, if they obtain only satisfactory grades, they will still receive the document). Secondly, it is important to note that during the period of study a substantial number of students drop out. For instance, completion figures of students who entered bachelor level in 2007 demonstrate a rate of attrition of about 30% (data based on the responses received from Russian HEIs in December 2012). Traditionally, technical and medical courses are most demanding, so tend to incur the highest drop-out rates.

The difference in the status and prestige of the university is another aspect. In Russia there is an implicit ranking of universities, and many employers take into consideration the type of institution from which an applicant graduated. Undoubtedly, a graduate from Moscow State University or from Moscow State Institute of International Relations will be prioritised over a graduate from a regional institute. There are rankings, compiled by various organisations, which can also be used in this case. Late last year, the Russian Ministry of Education conducted an audit of both public and private institutions. As a result, some educational establishments are being either reorganised or simply closed. This factor can also be considered when screening job applications.

It should also be remembered that the majority of graduates from higher education institutions are not working in the specialism in which they trained. In this case, a diploma simply confirms that a person is able to think and work independently. Recently, some prestigious companies started to require graduates to be qualified in relevant disciplines, especially when it comes to specialised industries.

Responsible students have always tried to gain work experience while studying at the university. Employers frequently request work experience, so the placements are an important differentiator. However, whilst students used to take on placements during the last two years of education, the trend now is that many try to find something suitable as early as the second year.

The twin problems of corruption and diploma mills, against which there has been a long fight, do not always make it possible to blindly trust the marks on the diploma. No-one can say with absolute certainty whether a student has earned themselves the mark. In this regard, it makes sense to test an applicant, or check their knowledge and skills through interview.

For these reasons, Russian employers must consider a whole set of factors. Evaluation of graduates is often a subjective process, rather than one involving a set of easily applicable thresholds.

April 2013

UK NARIC compare marks achieved across the world to A-level and Bachelor degree grades obtained in England. For more information, please see International Grade Comparisons.


Technical and Vocational Education and Training in Turkey – Part 1


This article was first published on the ECCTIS blog

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is a hot topic in Turkey. As the local and global economies increase in competitiveness, the need for a labour force equipped with appropriate, quality-assured qualifications to meet the demands of the business environment also increases. The Turkish Ministry of National Education and Council of Higher Education (the bodies responsible for TVET in Turkey) are only too aware of this, and between 2003 and 2012 have invested over €9billion in developing the sector. This year alone, the Ministry of National Education is anticipated to allocate 37% of its total investment budget directly into the TVET sector. Resulting from this continual and substantial investment has been the development of an established and wide-reaching TVET system which delivers education and training in more than 130 occupations.

Much of the development of the TVET sector in Turkey has been attributed to the successful cooperation between educational institutions, schools and the social partners, which has ultimately eased the transition of TVET students from the institution to the work place. No wonder, then, that as part of their continuing work to enhance mobility through improved recognition and understanding of qualifications, the ECCTIS Ltd Research & Consultancy Team want to learn more.

Consequently, they are participating in a Study Visit to the Turkish province of Mersin at the end of May (funding provided under the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Commission). The premise of the visit is to explore themes around the valuable contribution of partnerships to education, and will be attended by a range of stakeholders from across Europe including the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania and the UK. During the week-long visit, participants will learn about the Turkish TVET system, initiatives of the local authority to promote and help improve TVET in the province, and examples of good practice in cooperation between institutions and social partners. Of particular relevance to the work of Research & Consultancy will be learning about the ways in which partnerships between government, private institutions and social partners have aided the recognition of TVET qualifications in Turkey, and how this has this helped increase the uptake of qualifications by students and the appreciation of qualifications by employers and industry.

With so many stakeholders attending from across Europe, the study visit is bound to be both interesting and insightful. Watch this space for reflections on the visit!

May 2013

*Disclaimer: The content of this publication is the sole responsibility for the publisher and the European Commission is not liable for any use that may be made of the information.