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Stopping candidates from applying for courses that do not sponsor visas

In the first 2 weeks of the 2023 to 2024 recruitment cycle, we saw a 188% increase in international candidates submitting applications. We worked with out policy team to design a pattern to stop international candidates (who do not have the right to work or study in the UK) from applying to a course that does not sponsor visas.

The issue

In the 2022 to 2023 recruitment cycle we have had over 4,800 applications rejected due to not having visa sponsorship. This wastes candidate and provider time, whilst also reducing a candidate’s chance of finding a suitable course.

Previously, when a candidate had chosen a course, we showed blue inset text warning them that this course does not offer visa sponsorship. The content said they need to delete their application and look for a different course that does offer visa sponsorship.

This inset text did not stop candidates from submitting their application without changing it. We needed a different way to stop them.

Screenshot of how we used to tell candidates that the course does not sponsor visas

What we did

We have revisited the user journey from when candidates fill out their details in the ‘Your details’ tab to adding an application on the ‘Your application’ tab.

We hid the submit button and replaced it with a warning message to stop the candidate submitting their application. This message would show if a candidate answers ‘No’ to the question about if they have the right to work or study in the UK, and they add a course that does not have visa sponsorship.

Screenshot of how the application review page looks like with the blocking pattern

In the content for the warning message, we added a link to Find postgraduate teacher training (Find) so that candidates could easily find a different and more suitable course.