Visas and Immigration for study in the UK

Changing your programme of study

If you are thinking about changing your programme of study, you need to be sure that this won't affect your visa.

The guidance on this page is for students who are already in the UK and registered on an existing programme of study, and who want to change their programme.

If you have completed your previous programme, and are thinking about starting a new one, please refer to our guidance for new students and applicants.

If you wish to change your programme of study, any change of programme must meet the following conditions from the UKVI Guidance:

  • The new programme is not at a lower level than the existing programme
  • Any new programme at degree level can be completed with the current period of permission; and
  • The university confirms to UKVI that the new programme is related to the existing programme, or supports the students genuine career aspirations

If your change of programme request does not meet the above conditions, your request will be not be authorised and it may mean that you need to apply for a new visa from outside the UK before you can change your programme.

Adding a work placement

If you want to add a work placement to your programme of study, you must first check that your programme allows this. Not all of our programmes are validated to include a work placement.

If you add a work placement, you will probably need to extend your existing visa to cover the new duration of your programme. You can make your visa extension either before or after your work placement (but not during).

Time limits on the duration of study in the UK

There is a maximum time limit on how long you can study in the UK. For university programmes, this is generally 5 years. You need to be sure that you can complete your new programme within this time limit, before you commit to any changes.

If you think that you might not be able to complete your new programme within the time limit, please contact our International Student Advice Service for advice.


A few of our programmes require you to have an ATAS certificate before you can register. If you wish to change to a programme that needs an ATAS certificate, you must obtain this before you start your new programme.

If you already have an ATAS certificate, this is only valid for your current programme. If you wish to change to a new programme that also required an ATAS certificate, you will need to apply for a new one before you start your new programme.