Procedures for International Postgraduate Researchers

International students – both new and returning – are required to undertake enrolment checks before being able to complete enrolment online.

ALL STUDENTS:

You will be invited to submit your immigration documents via an online form. These will be checked by a member of staff in advance of being invited to enrol online. 

In addition you are required to pay 50% of your annual tuition fee prior to enrolment.

NEW STUDENTS ONLY:

If you have arrived in the UK, you must collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card from Immigration and International Student Advice if you are a student being sponsored under the Tier 4 Points Based System (PBS). You will need to contact the team to arrange a time for collection.

Complete personalised enrolment checks online with a member of the team

Following submission of your immigration documents you will be invited to an online enrolment session where you will be expected to provide originals of the following documents: 

  • Valid Passport
  • Valid Visa / BRP card (if you already have it)
  • Valid ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) Certificate (where required)
  • CAS Statement letter

These will be checked against the documents held on file and will be uploaded to your student record.

If you have not in the UK as you have not yet received your vignette you will be required to provide this along with your BRP card at a later date after travelling to the UK.

If you are an International student, studying on a Tier 4 visa, you must have a commutable term time address in the South Wales/South West area in order to attend the University. Therefore, you will be expected to provide contact details including:

  • your overseas 'home’ address
  • your UK 'term-time’ address
  • a UK telephone number

Once you have completed online enrolment you will be issued with your Research Student ID card. The University of South Wales Student SMART ID card is multi-purpose and acts as your University ID, Library card, Door Entry card and allows you access to University services and facilities.

You are required to fully engage with your studies and to engage regularly with your supervisory team. 

To have the best chance of successful completion, you are expected to spend around 35 hours per week on your research and to engage with your supervisory team at least once per month although often, students and supervisors will engage more frequently than this. 

You must log your engagements with your supervisory team in PhD Manager such that at least one ‘meeting’ or ‘contact point’ is recorded at least every 4 weeks. This is to comply with the University's Attendance / Engagement Monitoring policy.

Full details of the policy and penalties for non-compliance can be found here

How to record supervision ‘meetings’ in PhD Manager

  1. Access Supervisory Meetings via ‘My Project’. Previous supervision meetings will be displayed and can be downloaded. 
  2. Click on Start a new supervision meeting and enter attendees. This can be done before or after the meeting. Please ensure via Outlook that all parties are available and have accepted your Outlook meeting request before starting the meeting in PhD Manager.
  3. Record the date and time of the meeting, where the meeting was held and the format. The latter may be recorded as ‘Face to face’, ‘Video-conference’, ‘Telephone’ or ‘Email’.
  4. Following the meeting, enter your meeting notes completing all sections fully and upload any files or attachments. You can also share these including any draft chapters with your supervisors in advance of the meeting.
  5. The notes will either be confirmed by all attendees or revisions requested until all those in attendance confirm the meeting record is accurate.
  6. The meeting notes will be confirmed and submitted and recorded as agreed. Follow-on notes can be added.
  7. Meeting notes can be downloaded as required.

You are entitled to take up to 35 days per year annual leave (which excludes bank holidays and closure days). The annual leave year is 1st October to 30th September. If you have leave left at the end of your leave period you may carry over a maximum of 5 days. If you start your studies in January or April your first year's leave will be calculated pro-rata e.g if you start in April you will have 17.5 days leave to take between April and October.

Authorisation of annual leave

Your request to book annual leave must be submitted in writing to your Director of Studies (or another member of your supervisory team in their absence) sufficiently early to allow authorisation in advance. You must not take annual leave without obtaining authorisation as you may be putting your immigration status as risk. Before submitting a request to take annual leave you must ensure you have sufficient leave remaining. 

Recording annual leave

Once you have obtained authorisation from your Director of Studies you must inform the Graduate School providing evidence of authorisation. The Graduate School will then record your leave formally and update the University's engagement monitoring system (PhD Manager) with a note. This is in part so that you don't receive alerts to register your attendance at the University whilst you are away.

There may be exceptional and / or unforeseen circumstances which require you to be absent from your studies and where it would be inappropriate for you to use your annual leave entitlement. In such circumstances you may apply to the University for a temporary leave of absence of between 3-20 working days. Requests of less than 3 days may be authorised by your Director of Studies.

Authorisation of leave of absence

Requests should be made in writing to the Deputy Academic Registrar (or nominee) using the online 'Authorisation of Absence Request Form' which you can access here. You will be expected to obtain and upload documentation to support your request and provide written evidence of support from your Director of Studies. Students should expect to receive a response within 7-10 working days.

The University will consider the reason given for the absence and the potential impact on you studies and the ability to complete your studies on time.

Recording leave of absence

If you are an International student studying on a Tier 4 visa and you have had an exceptional leave of absence approved, this will be recorded on the University’s engagement monitoring system (PhD Manager) and student record systems. In addition, if you are travelling overseas, you should receive a letter confirming the purpose of your trip in case you are asked for evidence by Border Force personnel when you re-enter the UK.

Absences of more than 20 days

Absences of more than 20 working days will not be granted. You must either take annual leave (if you have any remaining) or apply for an Interruption to Studies ( please refer to the PGR Degree Regulations or seek advice from the Graduate School). If you interrupt or withdraw from studies you must return home as your Tier 4 sponsorship will be withdrawn and the UKVI will be informed, in line with Tier 4 reporting requirements.

You may be permitted to study away from the University on academic grounds if, for example, your project requires you to collect data away from the University. To be eligible to apply you must have the support of your Director of Studies AND meet the following criteria:

  1. Satisfactory engagement with your studies;
  2. Not have any outstanding debt to the University;
  3. Not be applying for 'Study Away' during the first five months of your course
  4. Not be applying for 'Study Away' for more than three calendar months (per year of study). 

Applying for 'study away'

You must submit a request for 'study away' in writing to the Graduate School using the Study Away Request Form. This should include the following details: location of study, reasons for applying for study away, period of study away and a research plan, signed by your Director of Studies. You should receive a response within 7-10 working days so it is your responsibility to ensure this is submitted sufficiently early. 

In exceptional circumstances, a longer study away period MAY be considered but your Director of Studies will need to make a strong case on the proforma to explain why this is needed.

Engagement with the University during 'study away'

You must keep in touch with your supervisory team and continue to meet with them whilst you are studying away. You must continue to record these engagements at least every four weeks in PhD Manager to comply the University's Tier 4 attendance  engagement monitoring procedures. 

Failure to adhere to these requirements could result in withdrawal from your course and the University will cease Tier 4 sponsorship. Consequently your visa will be subject to curtailment procedures and you will be expected to leave the UK immediately.

Further information about your responsibilities as a Tier 4 sponsored student can be found by visiting the University's Immigration and International Student Advice.

If you are studying on a Tier 4 visa, and conducting research or writing up your thesis, you may be permitted to complete and submit their thesis away from the University.

Applying to complete your studies away from the University

You must gain support from your Director of Studies and submit a request to complete and / or submit your thesis away from the University in writing to the Graduate School using the Study Away Request Form. Your application must include the following details: location of study, reasons for study away, period of study away (if within the UK), expected thesis submission date and a plan of work, signed by your Director of Studies. You should expect to receive a response with 7-10 working days.

Completing your thesis away from USW (within the UK)

If you are completing your thesis away from the University (within the UK) during your writing-up phase, you are expected to remain in regular contact with your supervisory team and record your meetings at least every four weeks in PhD Manager.

This is in order to comply with the University's Tier 4 attendance / engagement monitoring procedures.

Failure to adhere to these requirements could result in withdrawal from your course and the University will cease Tier 4 sponsorship. Consequently, your visa will be subject to curtailment procedures and you will be expected to leave the UK immediately. 

Completing your thesis away from USW (outside the UK)

If you are completing your thesis away from the University (outside the UK) during your writing-up phase, USW will withdraw Tier 4 sponsorship, the UKVI will be informed and your visa will be subject to curtailment procedures.

You will not be permitted to return to the UK using your Tier 4 visa, so if you are returning to the UK for your viva you must apply for a general visitor visa. You will be expected to provide evidence of your outbound flight and your entry stamp once you have left the UK. 

Further information and guidance can be found by visiting the University's Immigration and International Student Advice.