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The visa you'll need to study in the UK depends on the country you're coming from and how long you'll be studying here.

We'll advise you on the visa you need when you apply to us, but we've listed the most common types below.

Tier 4 (General) student visa

You'll need to apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa if:

  • You're from a country that's outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.
  • You're applying to a course that lasts longer than six months or an English language course that lasts longer than 11 months.

You can apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa up to three months before you start your course. Depending on your country, it could take up to two months for your visa to be processed, so it's best to start your application as soon as possible.

For up-to-date information about the cost of your visa, processing times in your country, what you'll need to apply and how to apply, visit the Tier 4 (General) student visa pages on the UK Government website.

Unfortunately, we cannot accept students who need a Tier 4 (General) student visa onto our foundation degree (FdSc) and EFDP courses. These course are three-to-four years long and this visa does not permit study for more than two years on a course below bachelor's degree level.

Tier 4 (Masters) student visa - pilot

Please note: We have received notification that the Tier 4 pilot will come to an end in the first half of October 2020. From that point, eligible students will be able to extent their stay in the UK after their studies by using the new Graduate route which will be available from Summer 2021. As details of this route are confirmed, this page will be updated accordingly

In 2018 Harper Adams University was pleased to announce that it was selected to participate in a Tier 4 visa pilot scheme, along with a small number of other universities. Harper Adams was selected to join the pilot due to its consistently low visa refusal rates and positive record in relation to Tier 4 compliance. This scheme simplifies the visa application process for students who are applying for a Master’s degree course of 13 months duration or less.

All eligible Tier 4 applicants will automatically be entered into the pilot and will be able to benefit from the following:

  • An extended stay in the UK at the end of your course - all students will be granted an automatic additional six months leave at the end of their course, to stay in the UK, typically to look for work.
  • You will be considered ‘low-risk’ for immigration purposes meaning that there will be less documents to include with your application - the Home Office has delegated a number of document checks to the University, meaning that applicants in the pilot will only have to provide a limited number of supporting documents, meaning that the application process should be more straightforward.

Limited further details are available in the Tier 4 application guidance published by the Home Office

Which courses are included in the Pilot and how long does it last?

The pilot is only for students applying for a Tier 4 visa for Master's degree study. It is not applicable for any other undergraduate or postgraduate course or for any other visa type. As this is a pilot, we cannot guarantee how long it will remain in place. Applicants to whom this is applicable will see it noted on their CAS.

What affect does this have on the visa application process?

Students in the pilot do not have to submit with their visa application documents relating to their academic qualifications or evidence of meeting the financial requirements. Students will still need to submit these to Harper Adams University for checking in order to be issued with a CAS and will need to have these readily available should they be requested by UKVI at any point. Students will still have to submit other documents, including their passport, TB certificate and ATAS certificates where required. If any documents are submitted to UKVI in error, they will be assessed in the normal way.

How will this affect the way Harper Adams University deal with my application?

In the main, your application will be dealt with in the same way as all other students, your application will be assessed in an academic capacity, checking things like entrance requirements, English language ability, references, and your suitability for the course. Once we are prepared to make you a course offer, there may be a few small differences to what we require from you. As part of the pilot we have been trusted to undertake checks which UKVI would normally do, this means that before we issue a CAS we will need to check your bank statement to ensure that you have enough funds for the maintenance requirements, and your academic qualification certificates; this is something that we normally ask Tier 4 students to provide, however, we may ask for additional supporting documents if we need to check the validity of documents.

How will an entry clearance officer know which students are in the pilot?

The online application form for Tier 4 visas is being updated to give students the ability to flag that they are in the pilot and will therefore not be required to submit all documents. The Home Office also notify the relevant staff who are processing visa applications which institutions are in the pilot.

Does this make getting a visa easier or quicker?

No, all students in the pilot will still need to fully complete a Tier 4 visa application and meet the applicable immigration rules. Being in the pilot does not guarantee that your visa will be granted. As there are less documents for UKVI to check, your application may be processed slightly quicker than a standard application, however this cannot be guaranteed due to the priority processing schemes which are available to all students.

What about dependants?

If you are bringing dependants to the UK with you and they apply for their visa at the same time as you, they will not be required to show evidence of funds available with their application (although they must have the evidence available should it be requested). If they are applying separately, they will need to add this evidence to their application in the normal way.

Do I have to stay for the additional 6 months?

No, should you wish to leave the UK at the end of your course you still can. Students in previous years of the pilot have often not realised the value of the additional time until they have neared the end of their course. For many, this time has become valuable for seeking out opportunities in the UK, including finding permanent employment or moving on to further study. During the 6 months period students are permitted to leave the UK and return as required.

Can I opt out of the pilot?

No, all Tier 4 applicants for MSc courses will be automatically included. There is no need to opt in and no ability to opt out.

Contact us

If you have any questions in relation to the postgraduate courses application process, please contact

If you gave any questions relating to the Tier 4 pilot specifically, please contact the Head of Registry at

Short-term study visa

You’ll need to apply for a Short-term study visa if:

  • You’re from a country that’s outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.
  • You’re applying to a course that lasts no longer than six months or an English language course that lasts no longer than 11 months.

You can apply for a Short-term study visa up to three months before you start your course. Most Short-term study visas take three weeks to be processed, but it could take longer depending on your country. It’s best to start your application as soon as possible.

For up to date information about the cost of your visa, processing times in your country, what you’ll need to apply and how to apply, visit the Short-term study visa pages on the UK Government website.

Short-term study visa do have some restrictions:

  • You are not permitted to bring family members (dependants) with you.
  • You will not be able to take on paid employment.
  • This visa cannot be extended, so you must return home at the end of your course.
  • You won’t be able to claim public funds.

Students from inside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland

If your’re from a country that’s inside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you are not currently required to apply for a visa for study, however following the UK’s departure from the EU, this will change from 1st January 2021. Details of the application system for this visa have not yet been defined, but as soon as this is available, we will let all affected applicants know. Any student who is starting a course before this date, should apply for the EU settlement scheme, which is free and protects their rights to free travel in the UK. If this is not applied for within the time limit, then EU students will be required to transfer to the new visa system at additional costs. The UK Council For International Student Affairs has useful information on your rights as a student from the EEA.

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