In an important judgment for all Tier 4 sponsor licence holders, the Court of Appeal has held that it is for the education provider to determine if the academic progression requirement has been meet.
We would recommend that the case, Pokhriyal  EWCA Civ 1568, which was handed down on 5 December 2013, is read in full.
The Court of Appeal held that it is possible, depending on the facts, for a course to be regarded as meeting the academic progression requirement even where it is at the same or a lower level than the previous course. The Court also made it clear that the Home Office should not interfere with a reasonable and considered decision taken by a sponsor.
The Court of Appeal stated that:
“Whether a particular course constitutes academic progress…involves a value judgment. Paragraph 120B of Appendix A makes it clear that it is for the college, not to Secretary of State, to carry out the assessment. It is unsurprising that colleges are trusted to make this particular decision. The colleges have the requisite expertise”.
It went on to clarify that “the Secretary of State cannot go behind the college’s assessment of academic progression”.
The facts involved a student who had already studied a course at degree level and who wanted to study an IT course at a lower level. The student provided a strong explanation as to why he wanted to acquire IT skills in addition to the skills he had gained in his non-IT related degree which was accepted by the sponsor.
We believe that this case is extremely important for Tier 4 Sponsors, not only in relation to the assessment of academic progression but in relation to all decisions concerning academic matters.
If you need advice on Tier 4 matters, please contact us.