The director of Universities UK International, Vivienne Stern, recently called on the government of the UK to ask them to lower the proposed UK work permit salary cap for EEA workers.
Currently, the whitepaper recommended for after Brexit indicates that those applying for a tier 2 work permit would need an average income of £30,000 per year. This salary threshold is considered to be extremely high by some education and health bodies. Currently, Universities UK is asking for a reduction to a maximum of 21k for the UK work permit cap.
Universities UK commented that its members have been highly vocal in explaining that high-skill occupations in the UK can't always offer the highest salaries. Many crucial roles in the education sector would typically pay a lot less than the £30,000 requirement each year. This means that there is a significant risk that schools will begin to lose the skills that they need if the new immigration UK threshold is enforced.
Vivienne Stern, on behalf of Universities UK, acknowledged that migration controls are necessary for today's UK visas. However, she also argued that these changes to the tier 2 work permit and similar solutions should not come at the expense of losing critical talent. Stern commented that it is essential for the UK not to leave itself with a severe skill shortage at a time when growth and productivity in our economy are crucial.
According to Stern, the Home Secretary has even acknowledged for himself that the education space might suffer from a higher threshold. Universities UK believes that if the government adjusts the UK work permit with a limit of £21,000, this will allow for easier recruitment for roles in the language and technician spaces of the higher education sector.
Universities UK plans to continue working with stakeholders to strengthen their case for a lower threshold going forward