16 September 2020
RECORDS MANAGEMENT SECTION
The University of Edinburgh
File ref: T3/43/34
Edinburgh EH8 9YL
Direct Dial 0131 651 4099
Sent by email: request-685874-
Switchboard 0131 650 1000
Dear Mahlea Babjak
Freedom of information request
Thank you for your email of 19 August 2020 requesting information about Tier 4 students.
The University of Edinburgh is a global university, rooted in Scotland. We are global y
recognised for our research, development and innovation and we have provided world-
class teaching to our students for more than 425 years. We are the largest university in
Scotland and in 2018/19 our annual revenue was £1.1 bil ion, of which £286 mil ion was
research income. We have over 43,000 students and almost 16,000 staff. We are a
founding member of the UK’s Russel Group of leading research universities and a
member of the League of European Research Universities.
We operate on an international stage and this is reflected in al areas of University life;
from our students and staff, to our col aborations that tackle problems transcending
national boundaries, and the important intel ectual and societal contributions we make.
Our international applicants and students prize our international reputation, the
programmes we offer, our expert lecturers and quality research. When surveyed for the
annual International Student Barometer, we had more international students satisfied
with their university experience than any other Scottish university.
The University of Edinburgh is a Highly Trusted sponsor for Visa Tiers 2, 4 and 5. Most
international students are required to apply for a Tier 4 student visa to enter the UK. We
are required to demonstrate that sponsored students are attending and engaging in their
programme of study. Our processes have been tested and our Highly Trusted status
reconfirmed in 2017. This recognises the rigour of our processes, our very low visa
refusal rate and the high proportion of our international student achieving their academic
We provide guidance for Tier 4 students about their rights and responsibilities,
information about the University’s responsibilities, on our website. The University’s Tier 4
Student Attendance and Engagement Policy,
introduced in August 2015, outlines the
University’s processes. The Policy
also supports the improvement of the overall student
experience by identifying where students may be experiencing dif iculties and ensuring
timely intervention and appropriate support.
UNIVERSITY SECRETARY Ms Sarah Smith
The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, with registration number SC005336
Tier 4 students
You asked for the number of Tier 4 students enrol ed at the University in the 2019/20
academic year. A total of 9,186 Tier 4 students were enrol ed in 2019/20. To be
consistent with the Scottish Funding Council's approach, this figure includes all Tier 4
matriculated students with the exception of those who within five weeks of Semester 1
commencing either withdrew, interrupted or completed their studies.
You asked for the number of Tier 4 students who have contacted student funding
services to report difficulties with paying their tuition fees on time. The University does
not record these figures in a reportable form. In order to provide the number of Tier 4
students who have contacted student funding services, the University would have to
review all emails to student funding services. Since March this year, it has received 3-
5,000 helpdesk calls and emails each month. Students do not self-identify as Tier 4 or
international students in al emails, so in these cases we would need to cross reference
with the student record. Doing this work would cost more than £600, the limit over which
the University is not required to respond to freedom of information requests.
You then requested information on the assistance that is in place for Tier 4 students who
are unable to pay their tuition fees. The University’s Finance Department can assist
students in financial difficulty by working with them on an individual payment extension or
payment plan. More information is available on the University’s col ecting fees
You also asked for the COVID-19 provisions in place for Tier 4 students regarding health
and wellbeing, immigration advice and any other advice. The University’s Student
Immigration Service has provided guidance for those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
This includes a link to guidance on academic matters and the support available for
students currently studying at the University of Edinburgh. For information on the wide
range of personal and academic support available to students you can visit the
University’s Accessing Support
You asked whether the University is providing hardship funds for Tier 4 students. The
University has provided hardship funds as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which all
students were eligible to apply for. During the academic year 2019/20, 2,402 Tier 4
students applied for hardship funding. 1,865 Tier 4 students were granted funds with a
value of £993,677. Additional funds, both from the University and the Government,
continue to be available for Tier 4 students. The primary reasons why hardship fund
applications from Tier 4 students have been rejected by the University are: a lack of
information or supporting documentation to make a decision; and lack of hardship or
access to a high volume of funds.
As part of hardship fund assessments, the University requires to see students’ bank
statements, which outline their access to funds. The issuing of both government and
University funds are subject to an audit to ensure they are issued appropriately. The
University’s priority is to support those in hardship where there is limited access to funds
or additional support. Al students are assessed using the same framework regardless of
their fee or visa status.
You then asked whether any Tier 4 students have been reported to the Home Office
during the COVID-19 lockdown. The University has reported no Tier 4 student to the
Home Office during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Finally, you asked for the number of Tier 4 students who have contacted the University's
immigration support office requiring advice and/or reporting immigration difficulties from
March 2020 until August 2020. In order to provide the number of Tier 4 students who
have contacted the Student Immigration Service, the University would have to review
around 15,000 emails, checking each one individual y as email subject lines rarely reflect
the nature of the email enquiry. Doing so would cost more than £600, the limit over
which the University is not required to respond to freedom of information requests.
Please note that as some of the information requested is available to you through the
University website, it is technical y exempt from the University’s obligation to answer
requests for information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. The
information is exempt under section 25 of this Act, because it is available to you by
another route. This exemption is a technical matter only and does not affect your ability to
obtain the information on-line.
If you do not have access to the Internet or would prefer to receive information in hard
copy please let me know and I wil arrange for printouts from the appropriate web pages
to be sent to you.
Right to review
If you are dissatisfied with this response, you may ask the University to conduct a review
of this decision by contacting the University's Records Management Section in writing
(e.g. by letter or email) or in some other recorded form (e.g. audio or video tape). You
should describe the original request, explain your grounds for dissatisfaction, and include
an address for correspondence. You have 40 working days from receipt of this letter to
submit a review request. The contact details for the Records Management Section are at
the top of this letter. When the review process has been completed, if you are stil
dissatisfied, you may use the Scottish Information Commissioner’s guidance on making
to make an appeal to the Commissioner. If you do not have access to the
Internet, please let me know and I wil provide a copy of the relevant web pages.
Privacy notice for information request applicants
The University of Edinburgh's request privacy notice,
which describes how we use the
information you have supplied about yourself and your request, is published on the
If you require this letter in an alternative format, such as large print or
a coloured background, please contact the Records Management
Section on 0131 651 4099 or email firstname.lastname@example.org