Universities are concerned that Government plans to increase the minimum salary for non-EU skilled workers will affect their ability to recruit academic staff.
The Universities UK body raised the fears in a submission to the consultation on increasing the salary to at least £35,000 for people coming to work in the UK on a Tier 2 visa.
It said that almost 12 per cent of UK academic staff come from outside of the EU and they are a “vital component of the workforce within UK universities”.
That view was echoed by the Russell Group, which represents 24 top research universities.
It said that the changes would run the risk of risk “jeopardising the ability of our universities to offer instruction to students in languages such as Arabic, Farsi, Russian, Japanese and Mandarin”.
It also cautioned against further restrictions on the right of overseas students to come to the UK to study and their ability to remain in the country after graduation. The Government wants to send overseas students back to their native countries after graduation without giving them the option to work in Britain. Those that want to work in the UK would be forced to apply from their home country, not while they were in the UK.
Currently, to work in the UK on a Tier 2 visa, a new entrant must earn at least £21,000 and skilled, experienced workers must be paid at least £27,200.
The Russell Group said: “Under the proposed changes, our universities would no longer be able to sponsor a number of international staff members under Tier 2 as they would have neither the ability nor the resources to increase salaries accordingly.”
The higher salaries are being considered are part of the Government’s efforts to reduce the net migration figure but the policy has been widely criticised by different business sectors.