Making the right to work or study and immigration questions clearer

Since the start of the 2023 to 2024 recruitment cycle in October, we’ve seen a sharp increase in the number of international candidates applying for courses that are not suitable for them. This could be because they:

  • do not have the right to work or study in the UK
  • apply for courses where visa sponsorship is unavailable

We are looking at ways we can make sure that only eligible candidates apply for courses that they are suitable for. This will save time for both the provider who needs to reject unsuitable candidates, and for the candidates themselves as they will need to apply for other courses.

This change was released in October 2023.

What we changed

We updated content on the ‘Right to work or study in the UK’ page in apply. We also improved the content on the ‘What is your immigration status?’ page.

Right to work or study in the UK

There was very little information on the page to add context to the question. Additionally, we were linking out to an information page on GOV.UK which has been withdrawn. The question ‘Do you already have the right to work or study in the UK?’ had radio button labels of ‘Yes’ or ‘Not yet’ and we were concerned this could be confusing.

To improve the page, we:

  • added more information about the way visa sponsorship works
  • linked to an advice page on Get Into Teaching about applying for visas
  • updated the radio buttons to ‘Yes’ or ‘No’
Screenshot of the new right to work or study page in Apply.

What is your immigration status?

We looked at the data and found that some candidates were adding some unexpected answers to the free text box on this page, indicating that more guidance on what to write was needed. The hint text ‘For example, “I have permanent residence”’ was quite limited.

We changed the hint text to include some more examples of immigration statuses.

Screenshot of the new immigration status page in Apply.

Further considerations

We are currently testing a more comprehensive way of collecting immigration status. This includes listing all visas and statuses and allowing the user to check a tick box, rather than having to manually type in their status. We are also considering ways of blocking users from applying for courses that do not have visa sponsorship available.