'Reduce visa salary threshold' say top universities

Universities call on government to lower proposed salary threshold to £21,000 to protect thousands of scientific, teaching and technician posts filled dispropotionately by women.

Lady works in a lab
An association representing the UK's leading universities is calling on the government to reduce the proposed £30,000 salary threshold for skilled workers' visas.

Salary threshold to negatively affect universities and prominantly women's jobs

The government said it was minded to impose the threshold on overseas talent in its post-Brexit immigration white paper published late last year.But the Russell Group, which represents 24 of the country's top universities, said in a report on Friday that the threshold should be cut to £21,000. If not, the group warned it would be "difficult to fill thousands of scientific, teaching and technician posts and could discriminate against part-time workers, who are predominantly women".The report, based on an analysis carried out by EY, said that 48,000 (26 per cent) of current staff at Russell Group universities came from overseas.

Up to 59,000 university jobs could be impacted

"The Russell Group supports the government’s vision for a future immigration system based on skills. However, the Home Office’s plans as currently drafted would hamper recruitment, deter sought-after individuals and prove difficult to administer, further undermining public confidence in the immigration system," said the group.EY estimated that if the government accepted the £30,000 threshold recommended by the Migration Advisory Committee, some 59,000 positions at the group's would not be open to future international employees.Dr Tim Bradshaw, chief executive of the Russell Group, said, “Russell Group universities stand among the best in the world and are a proud national asset, precisely because we are international in nature."To deliver for our students and communities we need to attract the best minds from around the globe. For certain posts, for example technicians, we also face real shortages in our domestic workforce.

Domestic talent shortage of university technicians

“The Home Office has said it will listen to concerns about its immigration plans. We are not alone – ask businesses up and down the country along with big public sector employers: setting a £30,000 salary threshold for skilled visas would be a serious own goal, limiting our ability to hire the migrant workers the UK needs and discriminating against part-time employees, who are predominantly women.“This idea of phasing in the new rules, while well-meaning, is likely to create administrative chaos. A system that piles more red tape on employers and gets off to a disruptive start will only damage public confidence in the reforms. We hope ministers will come back with realistic timings and a clear plan to deliver them.”According to EY’s research, the £30,000 threshold would be particularly problematic for certain roles, such as technicians, scientific staff and language assistants.

Proposals could drive away young generation of talent

"Academics earning below £30,000 are usually younger members of staff at an earlier stage of their career, meaning the UK would have less access to the next generation of top international researchers," said the group."A salary requirement of £30,000 would make it particularly difficult for part-time workers to secure a skilled worker visa. It relates to actual salary as opposed to 'full-time equivalent' and cannot be pro-rated."Part-time workers from overseas looking to be employed in the UK would therefore face additional restrictions and this would clearly have a disproportionate impact on women. Parts of the country with lower average salaries would also be penalised."Enter the 2019 Relocate Awards in-text bannerSubscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online Directory