Procedures for International Postgraduate Researchers

International students – both new and returning – are required to undertake personalised enrolment checks at the Graduate School before they are able to complete online enrolment.

If you are an international student attending the University for the first time or you have studied with us previously and are progressing to a postgraduate research degree before you will be able to enrol online 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).

Complete personalised enrolment checks at the Graduate School.

At your enrolment session you will be expected to provide originals of the following documentation, which will be copied and scanned and kept on your student record:

  • Valid Passport
  • Valid Visa / BRP card
  • Valid ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) Certificate (where required)

You may also bring copies of your:

  • CAS Statement letter

If you are an international non-EU student, studying on a Tier 4 visa at one of our South Wales campuses, 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 Postgraduate 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.

All students being sponsored by the University under Tier 4 are subject to attendance monitoring. If you are a student being sponsored by the University under Tier 4, you will be expected to scan your fingerprint every 7 days. You must scan your fingerprint using the fingerprint scanner at your respective campus.

Where do I scan?

The fingerprint recognition devices are located:

Cardiff Campus - Advice Zone, ATRiUM

Glyntaff Campus - Main Foyers of Elaine Morgan and Alfred Russel Wallace buildings

Newport Campus - Library, B Floor

Treforest Campus - Graduate School Office (8FG), Main Foyers of Glynneath and Ty Crawshay buildings, and first floor of Student Support & Library Services building.

If you have difficulties attending University, please discuss this with the Graduate School so that your immigration status is not put at risk.

Further information about the University's Attendance Monitoring Policy can be found here.

If you are a full-time International student studying on a Tier 4 visa you are expected to attend the University all year round not just during term-time (unless you have booked annual leave). You are also expected to spend around 35 hours a week on your research.

Your supervision meetings must be logged on PhD Manager to enable the University to monitor that you are engaging regularly with your supervisors. You should meet with your supervisors at least once per month but you may meet more frequently than this. 

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. You can check this with the Graduate School.

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 attendance monitoring system. 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 attendance monitoring 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 attendance and engagement;
  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 Director of Studies and the Graduate School whilst you are studying away. You should submit a Study Away - Record of Attendance proforma to the Graduate School every 7 days. After 28 days, you must ask your Director of Studies to sign the form to confirm that you are engaging with your supervision arrangements. 

You will still be expected to adhere to the University's Tier 4 attendance monitoring procedures. Submitting a Study Away - Record of Attendance proforma every 7 days for the duration of your study away period will act as your attendance scan.  On receipt of this the Graduate School will update your record on the University's attendance monitoring system. You will be expected to provide evidence of your outbound and return flights and you must return to the UK by the date agreed on your application for study away. 

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 Director of Studies and the Graduate School and should submit a Study Away – Record of Attendance proforma, every 7 days. After 28 days, you must ask your Director of Studies to sign the proforma to confirm that you are engaging with your supervision arrangements. You will still be expected to adhere to the University's Tier 4 attendance monitoring procedures. Submitting a ‘Study Away – Record of Attendance' proforma every 7 days for the duration of your study time away, will act as your attendance scan. The Graduate School will update your record on the University’s attendance monitoring system upon receipt of your completed proforma. 

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.