The decision


ML (student; “satisfactory progress”; Zhou explained) Mauritius [2007] UKAIT 00061


Heard at: Field House Date of Hearing: 19 June 2007


Senior Immigration Judge Storey
Senior Immigration Judge Grubb






For the Appellant: Mr P Morris instructed by IAS
For the Respondent: Mr G Saunders, Senior Home Office Presenting Officer

(1) The Court of Appeal in Zhou v SSHD [2003] EWCA Civ 51 was not concerned with the proper construction of para 60(v) of HC 395; (2) The Tribunal’s decision in TY [2007] UKAIT 00007 on the meaning of “his course of study” in para 60(v) is correct; (3) However, it follows from the analysis in Zhou that “satisfactory progress” has to be established in the “course of study” for which leave as a student was last granted because there is no mechanism for the Secretary of State to approve transfer to another course of study during the period of that leave.


1. The appellant is a citizen of Mauritius who was born on 1 July 1983. On 13 February 2007, the respondent refused to vary her leave to remain as a student under paragraph 62 (with reference to paragraph 60(v)) of Statement of Changes of Immigration Rules, HC 395. Following a hearing on 29 March 2007, Immigration Judge Price dismissed the appellant’s appeal. On 23 April 2007, Senior Immigration Judge Perkins ordered reconsideration. As a result, the matter comes before us.

2. The facts of this appeal are as follows. On 8 September 2004 the appellant was granted leave to enter the United Kingdom as a student until 31 October 2005. During that time she successfully completed an IATA Diploma in Travel and Tourism at the London School of Management, Ealing London. Thereafter, she was granted further leave until 30 November 2006 to study the IATA-UFTAA Consultant Diploma in Travel and Tourism at the same institution. She undertook the course but, in April 2006, failed a component of one of the course’s two modules. As a result, in order to pass the Diploma, she was required to retake the examinations for both components of the failed module. The appellant did not retake the examinations, she says, because she was advised that to do so would interfer with her studies on the BTEC HNC Hospitality Management (Leisure and Tourism) course at St Patrick’s College, London for which she enrolled on 27 September 2006.

3. On 14 November 2006, the appellant applied for an extension of her leave as a student to undertake the BTEC HNC course at St Patrick’s College. On 13 February 2007 the respondent refused the application. His reason was that the appellant had failed to show satisfactory progress because she had failed the IATA-UFTAA Consultant Diploma in Travel and Tourism.

4. At the hearing before the Immigration Judge, the appellant argued that she had shown “satisfactory progress” in her BTEC HNC course and produced a “Progress Profile” from St Patrick’s College dated 23 February 2007. It showed that she had taken three examinations and had passed two of them and been referred in another. The Immigration Judge rejected the appellant’s argument that that course was relevant. Relying on the Tribunal’s decision in TY (Student; “satisfactory progress”; course of study) Burma [2007] UKAIT 00007, the Immigration Judge held that the only relevant course of study was that for which she had been last given leave, namely the IATA-UFTAA Consultant Diploma, which he held on the facts it was clear that she had failed. He, therefore, dismissed her appeal as she had not established “satisfactory” progress in her course of study as required by para 60(v) of HC 395.

5. We begin with the relevant Immigration Rule which is para 60(v) of HC 395 which provides as follows:

“60. The requirements for an extension of stay as a student are that the applicant:…
(v) can show evidence of satisfactory progress in his course of study including the taking and passing of any relevant examinations;…”

6. In TY, the Tribunal considered the meaning of the phrase “course of study” and the issue of which “course of study” was relevant to a decision under para 60(v) when an individual had undertaken more than one during his time in the UK. In deciding that it was the course of study for which the individual had most recently been granted leave, the Tribunal reasoned as follows:

“19. It seems to us, taking that as an underlying feature of the student rules read together, “his course of study” in paragraph 60(v) also focusses on the “course of study” for which leave to enter or remain was last granted. We see nothing unfair or surprising in requiring the applicant to show ‘satisfactory progress’ in that “course of study” rather than any other. Why should the individual’s progress be assessed by reference to any other “course of study” when further leave is requested? It is the one for which leave was most recently granted or, if appropriate, for which a transfer was subsequently approved by the Secretary of State. Any previous course(s) of study will have been taken into account in earlier decision(s) to extend the individual’s leave. It is the course of study which the individual either wishes to continue or, at least in leave terms, is the most immediate, against which it is most appropriate to assess progress. Indeed, we do not consider there to be any justification for an individual to obtain leave for a course of study and then switch to a less difficult one because it proves too difficult but claim, as is proposed in this case, ‘satisfactory progress’ in the lesser course. Usually such an individual will have shown, in reality, that the leave granted to undertake the more difficult course was in retrospect mistaken.”

7. Before us, Mr Morris accepted that the Immigration Judge had correctly applied TY when he restricted his consideration to the IATA-UFTAA Consultant Diploma. It was not suggested that it formed part of a single “course of study” with the BTEC HNC. However, Mr Morris submitted that TY was wrongly decided and we should not follow it. He submitted that it was appropriate to look at the appellant’s progress more ‘globally’ taking account of her progress in the BTEC HND course she was now following as well, perhaps, as that in the IATA-UFTAA Consultant Diploma. Mr Morris relied upon a number of detailed submissions made in his skeleton argument. The substance of his submissions was as follows.

8. First, Mr Morris submitted that in TY, by limiting the enquiry to the course of studies for which the individual had last been granted leave, the Tribunal had erroneously read words into para 60(v) which were simply not there. The Tribunal’s approach amounted to a re-drafting of the rule. Secondly, he submitted that the effect of TY was to require that all previous courses embarked upon had been successfully completed. Had the Secretary of State wished to achieve that, the rule could have said so – it did not. Thirdly, there was no basis for the Tribunal to say that the relevant “course of study” could include one to which the Secretary of State had, subsequent to the grant of leave, given permission to transfer. There is no provision for this is the rules. Fourthly, the approach in TY denied a student the opportunity to change from a course upon which he was not succeeding, perhaps for good reasons such as illness, poor teaching or lack of ability, to a more suitable one. In support of his submissions, particularly the final two, Mr Morris relied upon the Court of Appeal’s decision in Zhou v SSHD [2003] EWCA Civ 51 which, he pointed out, the Tribunal in TY had not been referred to.

9. We can deal with the first and second submissions of Mr Morris briefly. There is no doubt that para 60(v) requires consideration of an individual’s progress on “his course of study”. That is phrased unambiguously in the singular. It does not say “any” course of study and it does not allow for consideration of more than one course of study. In a case where an individual has undertaken more than one course of study, the Tribunal in TY was required to decide precisely which one should be considered. In anchoring the decision-maker’s attention firmly on the course of study for which the appellant was last given leave, the Tribunal was not adding words but merely interpreting the existing words to indicate the scope of their application: no more and no less. As regards the suggestion that the interpretation in TY requires proof that all previous courses embarked upon have been successfully completed, that is patently not the case. The decision-maker’s focus is, of course, on the “course of study” for which leave was last given. That will include all courses which are part of that “course of study” some of which may predate the grant of leave. It will depend when this course of study was commenced but it does not require consideration of any previous courses of study or, indeed, any current course of study if a new one has been embarked upon since leave was last granted.

10. In dealing with Mr Morris’ third and fourth submissions it is helpful to look first at the decision in Zhou relied upon by him. In that case, the applicant (‘Z’) sought judicial review of the Secretary of State’s decision to remove him as an immigration offender under s. 10 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. Z was given leave to enter the UK as a student to study English. A condition of his leave was, as is usual, that he would not take up employment except as permitted by the Secretary of State. The IDIs permitted a student (without specific authorisation) to take part-time employment providing it did not exceed 20 hours a week during term time. During his studies, Z worked 12 hours a week for a supermarket. For a variety of reasons – some of which were disputed – the appellant stopped attending the course he was studying. The Secretary of State considered that he was no longer a student and therefore in breach of a condition of his leave not to take employment – the IDI permission only applied to individuals who continued to be students.

11. The Court of Appeal rejected the Secretary of State’s argument that Z ceased to be a student because he no longer fulfilled the requirements of the Immigration Rules as a student. Z was a ‘student’ as long as he had leave to enter (or remain) as such. The Court saw practical difficulties in adopting a fact-specific approach. Lord Phillips MR (as he then was) said this at [30]:

“30. One can foresee many circumstances in which a person admitted as a student who embarks on a course which complies with the requirements of paragraph 57 may find that he is, perhaps temporarily, unable to maintain 15 hours a week attendance on the course. The college may, because of unforeseen circumstances find that it cannot provide 15 hours a week tuition in the chosen subject. The course may prove unsatisfactory and the student may wish to transfer to another teaching institution – as happened in this case. We do not understand it to be suggested that such events would place someone admitted as a student in breach of a condition attached to the leave to enter, so as to render that person liable to removal under section 10 of the 1999 Act. It seems to us patently unsatisfactory that such an event should render that person in breach of Code 2, and quite possibly guilty of an offence under section 24 of the 1971 Act, if he continues in temporary employment, particularly as the earnings from this might be necessary to supplement income needed for subsistence.”

12. Those practical concerns led the Court to conclude as follows at [32]:

“32….Leave to enter 'as a student' determines an individual's student status at the moment of entry. Thereafter, for the period for which leave to enter has been granted, the basis upon which the individual remains within the country is that leave to remain here for the period in question has been given to him 'as a student'. His leave to enter is subject to the Code 2 prohibition on unauthorised employment, but that itself is subject to the standing authorisation granted to students by Chapter 4 [of the IDI] to accept part-time employment. If those who are permitted to enter as students for a period continue to enjoy student status during that period there will be no room for doubt that, while they are subject to Code 2, they are entitled to work part-time under Chapter 4.”

13. And, again, at [34]:

“34…the natural meaning of the word 'student' in the IDI is a person who has been given leave to enter 'as a student'. This, coupled with the practical considerations considered above, has led us to conclude that Mr Zhou's first ground of challenge of the Secretary of State's decision is made good. Mr Zhou remained at all material times a 'student' for the purposes of Chapter 4. His part-time employment at Waitrose was authorised. He was not in breach of any entry condition, and the decision to remove him was unlawful.”

14. The decision in Zhou was strongly relied upon by Mr Morris which was not cited to the Tribunal in TY. It does not, in our view, provide any support to Mr Morris’ submissions on the meaning of para 60(v). The Court of Appeal was not considering the meaning of para 60(v) at all. The Court was concerned solely with Z’s existing immigration status in the UK. It was called on to consider whether the “basis on which [Z] remains in the country”– and being subject to Code 2 – could be said to have undergone fundamental change simply because of Z’s failure to make satisfactory progress. The Court concluded that Z “remained at all times a ‘student’ for the purposes” of the IDIs. The Court’s conclusion was that an individual remains a person with student status for so long as he has leave in that capacity. When it comes to an issue of breach of a condition of leave, all that is relevant is whether a student has breached those conditions; it is not relevant to make an assessment of whether he continues to meet the requirements of the Rules relating to students. One can readily see why the Court of Appeal reached the decision given the immigration consequence of removal which otherwise would have confronted Z.

15. Having said that, Zhou does assist Mr Morris to this extent. It seems that the leave given to a student is not tied to any particular course of study although, necessarily the decision whether to grant leave does require consideration of the course of study for which leave is sought. In other words, there seems to be no basis for the Tribunal’s view that the Secretary of State may approve a transfer to a different course during extant leave. It seems, based upon Zhou, that leave is granted simply as a student. Any transfer is then a matter solely between the student and the proposed educational institution to which transfer is sought. If that institution or the course (or course of study) does not satisfy the relevant Immigration Rules, then the Secretary of State’s remedy is either to curtail the individual’s leave under para 323(ii) of the Immigration Rules because he no longer meets the requirements of the (student) rules under which leave was granted (see Zhou per Lord Phillips MR at [35]) or, in the event of an application for further leave as a student, to decide that the applicant has failed to show satisfactory progress in the course of study for which he was last granted leave. Mr Morris’ criticism of the Tribunal’s reference to a transfer to a different course of study in TY may well be justified, but it does not, in our view, affect the integrity of the Tribunal’s decision which was principally to require the decision-maker to look at the course of study for which leave was last granted. That there can be no approved transfer from that course of study just means that the one for which leave was last granted will always be the relevant course of study to consider.

16. Mr Morris also relied upon Lord Phillips’ comments in para [30] set out above that there may be good reasons – such as illness or poor teaching - for giving up a course and that was perfectly possible and proper. Thus, a more flexible approach than in TY is justified. Lord Phillips’ comments must, however, be seen in context. As we have said, they relate to the legality of the individual’s existing immigration status in the UK: that was the sole issue before the Court of Appeal. The decision says nothing, in our view, about whether, having given up a course for those (or any other) reasons, an individual should or would be able to satisfy the requirements for an extension of leave in para 60 of the Immigration Rules. The Court was simply not considering that issue and its views cannot directly assist Mr Morris in this case. No doubt in a meritorious case where the individual has for good reason failed to show “satisfactory progress” in circumstances such as those contemplated by Lord Phillips in Zhou, even if he could not satisfy the requirement in para 60(v), the Secretary of State could always grant leave outside the Rules.

17. Subject to the point we make in para 15 above, nothing in Zhou or Mr Morris’ submissions leads us to consider that the reasoning or approach in TY is wrong. Neither Mr Morris nor Mr Saunders was able to suggest an alternative interpretation of the phrase “his course of study” other than to say that a more ‘global’ approach could be adopted. In truth, this takes us nowhere and, as Mr Morris accepted, any approach may lead to perceived anomalies. Certainly in this case the ‘global’ approach would not assist Mr Morris. Even if it were right to look at the appellant’s progress in the IATA-UFTAA Consultant Diploma and the BTEC HNC course, the plain truth of the matter is that the appellant would still not succeed. Following SW and Others (Paragraph 60(v): meaning of “including”) Jamaica [2006] UKAIT 00054, the appellant’s failure in the Consultant Diploma would mean she has not shown “satisfactory progress”.

18. In reality Mr Morris’ ‘global’ approach leads to an impossible construction of the phrase “his course of study” – clearly expressed in the singular form - so as to include more than one such course of study. It is simply not right as a matter of interpretation. Mr Morris can only succeed by persuading us that the only course of study that should be considered is the appellant’s current BTEC HNC course. Any argument that pleads for consideration to be given only to a subsequent course of study must, in fact, be driven by the poor progress of the student on the course of study which was the basis for the leave. That was so in TY and it is so in this appeal. The difference between the cases lies in the improvement that this appellant can claim in her current course of study. Mr Morris submits that TY does not allow for such ‘meritorious applicants’. In that, he is correct. However, as we alluded to above, the appellant may have a good basis for persuading the Secretary of State to exercise his discretion outside the Rules in such a case. It would be wrong to consider the Immigration Rules to be a comprehensive and hermetically sealed system for the grant of leave in student or other cases: they are not.

19. In TY at para [29], the Tribunal gave cogent reasons for focussing on the last course of study for which leave was granted. We agree with those reasons. TY was correctly decided. Thus, the Immigration Judge correctly applied TY and did not materially err in law in dismissing the appellant’s appeal.


20. For these reasons, the decision to dismiss the appeal stands.