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strange visa question 
7th-Mar-2012 02:59 pm
Mucha Pirate Girl
A purely hypothetical question from an American master's student who has been in the UK since undergrad on two consecutive student visas:

Is it feasible to do two graduate courses (in my case, a research doctorate alongside a separate, second vocational MA in a neighboring city) alongside one another, in a discreet manner?

Would a student pursuing both courses be able to enter the UK on a 3-year Tier 4 student visa registered with the doctorate-granting institution, having neglected to register the CAS number offered by the MA-granting institution? Would it simply be a matter of "I'm here legally; I can pursue supplementary study for fun!" or would Hypothetical Student risk deportation and/or getting in serious trouble? The UKBA site is ambiguous - it seems to simultaneously forbid studying at multiple institutions while leaving an enormous grey area in the field of acceptable "supplementary study."

(for the purposes of this argument, let's assume that the academic-feasibility and financial-feasibility side of things have already been discussed and tacitly approved by some members of the doctorate-granting institution. Quite a few home students of my acquaintance have been able to do the "double degree" thing (usually a law degree alongside a doctorate, although in one case it was a second master's degree) without being found out; however, they didn't have visa issues involved.).

Both institutions are regarded as Highly Trusted Sponsors and are in no danger of having said privileges revoked anytime soon, if that makes a difference. 
Comments 
7th-Mar-2012 04:45 pm (UTC)
Short answer: no. Your student visa is granted for a full-time course. You need one for each course. It isn't a mattter of your not regisering the CAS number - the institution that grants you it will register it, and it goes onto a government database.

If somehow you tried to scam it and got caught, both institutions would have little option but to throw you out. Mine certainly would. The UKBA would throw you out. You could be banned from the UK for up to a decade. And you would imperil all the students at the institution in question, because HTS status is contingent on a university being able to tell the UKBA that its students are not doing what you propose.

Supplementary studies are casual evening classes. Even an A-level. An entire degree course is not supplmentary.
7th-Mar-2012 05:07 pm (UTC)
I figured that would be the case - but I'm curious about the UKBA's rationale here.

Assuming that the student is not paying Home Fees (and hence taking government subsidies) and is not (necessarily) falling behind on work for the "main" degree, what's wrong with getting the most out of one's time in the country by sustained further study?

7th-Mar-2012 05:58 pm (UTC)
It's easier to track everything through the institution, which is how they do it; and you cannot do two full time degree courses at the same time. They also are looking at capping the number of foreign students and there is no way you would be allowed to pursue two degrees at once in that manner.

As far as what is wrong with it... well, in my opinion, any behaviour that casts further aspersions on international students at a time when our status in the UK is under attack by Government is wrong. That goes doubly for institutions who take advantage- as any institution who allowed you to pursue two PG qualifications at the same time would be doing- case in point the University of Wales. But it also applies in my opinion to the behaviour of students who want to defraud the system, regardless of reasoning.
7th-Mar-2012 06:25 pm (UTC)
If it's illegal - as you've pointed out, it is - then I can certainly see why it's defrauding the system, and certainly not something I'd recommend that anyone attempt. My question was, rather, whether it was or wasn't legal (ie, whether the attitude was "as long as you're in the country legally and not working illegally, we don't care what you do in your spare time as long as you don't negatively affect your primary degree" - there's very little in the UKBA website about it one way or another). It's a purely hypothetical question raised as the result of a discussion I had with some friends (one of whom, an English student, did a DPhil alongside an MA a few years ago - although he's a bit of a Lifer DPhil at this point) - even if it were possible, I'm not sure I (or anyone I currently know) would be crazy enough to try it.

Certainly, it's not unheard of at my institution for home students to pursue two "full-time" degree courses (when one is largely research-based and hence the hours are flexible enough) simultaneously, often doing well in both (at the expense of sleep and sanity, sure, but getting out at the other end). There's part of me that instinctively says "if you can hack it (and pay for it) then why is it anyone else's business" (and I note this was an instinctive, irrational response)

But what you say makes sense. As I know all too well, the situation for foreign students in the UK isn't great, and I can see why institutions (and the UKBA) would be wary of losing their HTS status, etc. So I suppose that's the answer to my question.

I do appreciate the time you took to respond, and I understand the byzantine workings of UKBA a bit better now.
7th-Mar-2012 08:13 pm (UTC)
and I understand the byzantine workings of UKBA a bit better now

Don't say that, lest it be immediately replaced by something even more bizarre.

D
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