Restricting international staff recruitment by universities

The problems with the Tier 2 cap

The THE recently carried a story about the problems being caused by the cap on immigration from non-EU countries which is particularly affecting universities:

The UK Border Agency has given each university a quota on recruitment from non-European Union countries under Tier 2 of the points-based immigration system, which covers “skilled workers”. The quotas cover new visas – and renewals for existing staff – between 19 July 2010 and 31 March 2011, when the permanent cap will be imposed.

The government’s interim immigration cap has left one of the UK’s major research universities able to recruit or keep only 78 “skilled” overseas academics this year – and the permanent cap could bring further reductions.

The institution in the THE report is UCL but Nottingham is in almost exactly the same position. We are a global university operating in a global market. We have to recruit the most talented academics and researchers, wherever they come from, in order to sustain our international competitiveness. It is only by sustaining and advancing our excellence in research, teaching and knowledge transfer that we can deliver what the country demands from a leading university. Measures which hamper our ability to recruit the best staff inevitably risk jeopardising the success of this enterprise and the efforts of other leading UK universities. At a time when the country desperately needs its universities, which are among the UK’s best export businesses, to perform to capacity, it seems perverse to put such constraints on us. The UK’s immigration policy needs to be robust and transparent but it will be counterproductive if it reduces the competitiveness of such an important export industry as higher education.

Universities UK has been working hard to persuade government to think again and the University of Nottingham has also been talking to our local MPs, resulting in my first (and, in all likelihood, last) appearance in Hansard.

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