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Final Winter Intake Before UK Visa Changes

clock iconCreated At:05 September, 2023
write iconCreated By:Reem Mohamed

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New visa changes are set to prevent dependants from joining UK universities starting January 2024. This is why a small number of UK universities are currently offering an early winter intake that aims to help international students avoid the impact of visa changes.

While the November intake has been a running thing in some universities for a number of years, other universities have just created a new intake specifically for 2023.

As tradition goes, a second postgraduate intake in the month of January is opened in the United Kingdom to help create additional places for applicants in some of the country’s most popular courses, including business, management, and computer science degree programmes.

Students coming from the Southern Hemisphere or those who failed to secure a visa in time for an autumn start are the ones benefiting the most from this off-track intake, which has been a powerful enabler of growth in international recruitment in the UK.

The UK government’s ruling to prevent applicants from bringing their family members along as dependants, however, will affect the January 2024 intake and beyond.

Some postgraduate courses starting in 2023 at the University of Law now have a newly introduced December intake.

In order to bridge the gap between the January intake and the course-specific content, students will now be required to take an additional generic module on academic study skills.

As stated on the University of Law’s website: “Students can join this course in December 2023 to benefit from an extra module on academic and professional practice to help prepare you for postgraduate study and enhance professional skills”.

Another university offering widespread November course intakes is Ravensbourne University London. This university specialises in digital media and design and has recently outsourced its international admissions processing to Oxford International Education Group.

The university noted that their dates have not been set to allow international students to bring their dependents along with them. The university also highlighted that it is offering January starts as well - like it did the previous year.

The university also said that the newly introduced November date is part of a larger strategy for growing international student numbers sustainably through staggered starts. Additionally, the intakes are open to both UG and PG students alike, the former of which have never originally had the right to bring dependants.

Another university offering a limited number of courses starting in November is Teesside University, specifically its London campus which is based in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford. These courses are offered, however, the university’s website chatbot informs potential international students that they will “need to apply using an agent in your country”.

A university that has been offering November intakes since 2016 is the University of Bedfordshire. A website course finder returns 45 postgraduate courses with a November start, including Master's Degrees in Law, Business, Computing, Engineering, Economics, and Tourism.

As reported by the University of Bedfordshire, there has been no major change in the behaviour of applicants when it comes to the November demand.

Back in July, there were reports concerning Nigerian students and how they were rushing to secure places before the dependants ban. At the time, Jamie Hastings, the director of My International Office, described students as ‘scrambling’ to secure places in September.

What remains to be seen, is how the demand will shift now that there is a smaller number of November and December start dates being offered in the market.

Modern institutions are starting to increasingly adopt flexibility on course start dates. This is due to the fact that this is seen as an attractive proposition for international students.

Students are allowed to join every few months at private universities such as BPP and UA92 as they operate a rolling admissions system.

In markets associated with a higher number of dependants connected to student visas, BPP features as the third most prominent recruiter, according to HESA data. The university recruited 5,400 students from across countries like Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka in 2021 - 2022.

Back in the summer of 2020, Coventry University famously created a July intake whose aim was to allow students from the European Union to enrol ahead of the drastic changes to their fee status. This was due to the impact of Brexit that led students to transition from Home fees status to full international fees status in September that followed.

The significant surge in price was avoided by students who were able to enrol at Coventry two months ahead of time. These students, however, were required to take an online module that bridged the gap until they were due on campus in the upcoming autumn.

While the move was widely seen as a success, in some cases, certain EU nationalities did not receive their high school examination results or leaving certificates in time to proceed with their enrollment early in the summer.

During that time, some stakeholders questioned whether this move was legal, however, it is unclear if the Office for Students was required to sanction new intakes.

At this late stage, the possibility of similar questions being raised with any university introducing a new winter intake is an option.

It is generally understood that several institutions have been considering introducing a November 2023 intake while monitoring applications to see if there is a shortfall related to dependant visa changes. 

While it still remains to be seen whether or not students are completely aware of the rule changes in the ground in key source markets, buoyant numbers for the January intake, however, have dissuaded many from this course of action.

A spokesperson for Teesside University, specifically their campus in London, said the following: “Teesside University London has implemented an innovative new delivery model and we will have three intakes of students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, from September, November and January. This is part of our long-term strategy and reinforces our drive to provide as much choice and flexibility as possible for all of our students across a diverse range of programs.”


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