Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

International Student Advice and Support

Visa Advice

Implications of changes to your studies

There are strict rules governing you when you are in the UK on a Tier 4 Student visa. Changing your study in some way may have implications on your visa and you need to be aware of the them before you make a decision that may have a big impact on you.

Please use the following information as a guide, but come and see an adviser for advice relating to your personal situation. 

Transferring to a new course at Loughborough

It may be possible to change courses at Loughborough University.  However, there may be academic considerations, and the department will need to take into account any Tier 4 requirements, such as academic progression and the time limits on specific levels of study, which may prevent this from being possible. If you applied for your Tier 4 immigration permission on or after 6 April 2013, then you may not be able to undertake study at a lower level.

  1. The first step to take when you are considering changing course is to talk to your personal tutor in the department you are currently in, or another member of academic staff, and discuss your reason with them.
  2. If you still want to change course, you will then need to contact the new department you want to move to, and ask if they will be willing to take you. 
  3. We would also advise you to make an appointment to speak to one of our advisers for more information on the implications on your visa.

You then need to take the following into consideration:

  • Academic Registry will have to notify the Home Office of the change
  • You may need ATAS approval for the new course- find out if this is the case from the new department
  • If your new course is shorter than the course for which your current Tier 4 immigration permission was granted, you will need to inform the Home Office  by emailing migrantreporting@ukba.gsi.gov.uk.
  • If your new course is longer than the course for which your current Tier 4 immigration permission was granted, you will need to apply for further Tier 4 immigration permission. You can make this application at any time before your current immigration permission expires, but the Home Office advises that you make it as soon as possible.


Leave of Absence (LOA)

This is when you take time out of your course. It allows you to return at the start of the next academic year or the second semester in the next academic year if you have successfully completed semester one. It must be agreed by your Department (personal tutor or another academic) and approved by Academic Registry. Complete the relevant form: RG1011A.

Things to consider before taking a LOA:

  • Could your problem be resolved by talking to your personal tutor or an adviser in confidence?
  • Would you benefit from talking to a University Counsellor in confidence?
  • When you are studying on a Tier 4 visa, Academic Registry will have to report this LOA to the Home Office who may curtail your leave to remain in the UK.
  • You will have to return to your home country during this period.
  • There is a cap on the amount of time you can study in the UK, this relates to the level of qualification you are studying. See the UKCISA website for full details.

Please make an appointment to see an adviser before deciding on taking a leave of absence.

You need to consider what to do about your accommodation when taking a LOA: 

University Halls
  • Complete the accommodation withdrawal form and hand to the Student Accommodation Centre.
  • Hand back your keys when you vacate your room.
  • You will be charged up to the official withdrawal/leave of absence date, plus a release fee (equivalent to 4 weeks rent/fees). This fee may be waived if you leave for medical reasons.
  • If you have already paid your hall fees you can ask for a refund of any overpayment. You will only receive a refund if your university account is in credit.
  • The balance of your room bond deposit should be refunded within 30 days.
 Private Halls
  • If you are living in private halls and have signed a contract you will be liable to pay rent to the end of the tenancy.
  • Try to find a replacement tenant – The hall provider needs to  agree the transfer in order for them to release you from your contract
 Private rented accommodation
  • If you are living in private rented accommodation and have signed a contract you will be liable to pay rent to the end of the tenancy
  • Check to see if there is an early release clause in the contract.
  • Try to find a replacement tenant. The landlord needs to agree the transfer in order for you to be released from your contract.
  • See the help of one of our advisers to ensure that any release from the contract is conducted correctly and you have no further liability.

Changing Institution

You can transfer to a new institution but you must make a full Tier 4 immigration application before you start the new course.

  • If your new course is with a Highly Trusted Sponsor, you can start the new course before you receive a decision from the Home Office .
  • If your new college or university is not a Highly Trusted Sponsor, you cannot start the new course until the Home Office  has given you new immigration permission to study at the new institution.

In any event, it is worth discussing this decision with your personal tutor or another academic in your department.

As when taking a Leave of Absence, you will also need to consider your accommodation, and the cap on length of study.


The Student Advice and Support Service is authorised to provide immigration advice and services by an order made under section 84(4)(d) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (The Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (Part V Exemption: Educational Institutions and Health Sector Bodies) Order 2001 (Statutory Instrument 2001 No. 1403)). Should you have a complaint about the service you can use the Student Advice and Support Service's complaints procedure or you can use the OISC Complaints Scheme.