Visas: English Language

Home Office written question – answered on 28th November 2022.

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Photo of Lord Johnson of Marylebone Lord Johnson of Marylebone Minister of State (Department for Education) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

To ask His Majesty's Government what discretion higher education institutions have to accept evidence of English language ability other than by reference to the result of an approved Secure English Language Test, for the purpose of Student Route visa applications.

Photo of Lord Johnson of Marylebone Lord Johnson of Marylebone Minister of State (Department for Education) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

To ask His Majesty's Government what measures are in place to ensure that applicants have English language skills at the level of proficiency required for courses when higher education providers have discretion to assess English language ability other than by reference to the result of a Secure English Language Test.

Photo of Lord Murray of Blidworth Lord Murray of Blidworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

An application for entry clearance to the UK or permission to stay as a student must show the student meets the English language requirement as specified in Appendix English Language of the Immigration Rules.

There is a degree of flexibility for sponsors that are Higher Education Providers (HEP) with a track record of compliance to self-assess the English proficiency of their students studying at degree level or above. The HEP choose their own method to assess the English ability of such students. Where they do so, they must state on the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) the method which they have used, including, where relevant, the applicant’s English language test scores in all four components (reading, writing, speaking and listening).

Additional discretion is available to such sponsors via their ability to waive the English language requirement if the student is studying at degree level and the sponsor considers the student to be gifted. This must only be done if English language proficiency is not integral to the course of study and a pre-sessional course would be inappropriate. If a sponsor wants to waive the English language requirement for a gifted student, their academic registrar, or the institution’s equivalent, must approve this waiver. The CAS must state that the student is gifted, as well as including an explanation of why this is the case and the name and contact details of the academic registrar or equivalent.

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