This week Home Secretary James Cleverley announced the minimum salary threshold for a skilled visa will rise from £26,200 to £38,700, well above the average entry-level career.
Via Paul Kelso, business reporter @pkelso
Saturday, December 9, 2023 12:20, United Kingdom
New immigration rules could prevent universities from recruiting the best international talent and send a message that the UK is “closing ranks”, higher education leaders have warned. newspaper.
Academic institutions and universities have told Sky News that increases in the minimum wage for skilled work visas have reduced the value of key early career academics and researchers. in promoting innovation.
Around 32% of teaching staff at British universities are foreign but this week Home Secretary James Cleverley announced the minimum salary threshold for a skilled visa will increase from £26,200 to £38,700well above the early career learning average of £30,000-£35,000.
Additionally, foreign workers will see the NHS surcharge, a healthcare fee that must be paid upfront, increase from more than £600 to more than £1,000.
University leaders fear the pay gap will damage their ability to compete for the best talent in a truly international market, with research funds likely to have to be diverted to increase salary.
Professor Dame Sally Mapstone, vice-chancellor of St Andrews, said: “The increase in the overall salary threshold requirement for skilled workers is truly significant. The people it will impact are postdoctoral researchers and those early in their careers, who are very important.” and presidents of Universities UK.
“Many of the people we hire as postdocs don’t have those salaries, so the implication is that this will bring another cost right at a time when we’re already struggling.
“The message this sends to the potential workforce is that the UK is not really looking to boost its economy but is closing the ranks.”
‘Any additional obstacle is a bad obstacle’
Dame Sally also warned that rising costs could undermine the government’s ambitions to make the UK a science and technology “superpower”.
The Prime Minister and Chancellor have repeatedly acknowledged there is a direct link between innovation at Britain’s truly world-class universities and future high-growth industries such as life sciences and WHO.
Dame Sally added: “The government has to look very carefully at the message it wants to convey. If we say the UK is looking to boost its economy and become a global player then they We need a constructive, cohesive and truly innovative policy towards recruiting the key talent we need from around the world.”
Professor David Kent, who runs the leukemia research program at the University of York’s biology department, said the added cost of recruiting from abroad could deter people from joining an already-complex staff. including Polish, Swedish, Mexican and Chinese employees.
“Now people will be faced with a choice,” he explained. I’ll say I want to interview you and they’ll ask, ‘What would my future look like if I had this £1,000 a year’?” year for my healthcare supplement, for every member in my family, paid in advance for the duration of my visa, and I must meet this minimum wage?’.
“If you are a German postdoc looking for positions in Germany, France or the UK, these are additional obstacles and any further impediments to bringing the best and brightest here are are bad obstacles and we need to address those.”
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Home Office defends visa pathways despite concerns about students
Under the current visa regime, there are some discounts on full pay that universities can offer to certain categories of staff, but the Home Office could not confirm whether they would apply. according to new regulations or not.
It said alternative routes for scholars would still apply, including the Global Talent route for highly skilled migrants who do not require a visa.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “While net migration remains too high, putting a strain on public services, we have world-leading visa pathways to attract international talent. into our technology sector and support international founders to set up companies in the UK.” .
The higher education sector is currently under intense financial pressure as universities rely heavily on foreign students to underwrite limited domestic tuition fees, which cannot cover the costs of provision. education, resulting in a debt burden of around £1 billion.
There are concerns that a review of the student visa regime also announced this week could further weaken the UK’s competitiveness.
With students accounting for more than a third of total net migration last year, the government has tightened rules for students bringing their dependents to the country.
Currently, students can switch to a two-year work visa after three years but that is under review.
University leaders point out that countries like Australia allow work with dependents for at least three years.