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UK: MAC report a “step in the right direction”

The UK’s representative body for universities has welcomed the Migration Advisory Committee recommendations on a points-based system and salary thresholds for immigration as a “step in the right direction”, but warn that the new arrangement must allow the UK to continue to attract the “brightest” talent.

UK university associations welcome the proposed lowering to salary thresholds for migrants, but hope to consult the UK government further going forward. Photo: pixabay

"Some of the MAC recommendations are a step in the right direction"

The MAC’s latest report recommends that the previously proposed salary threshold of £30,000 for migrants, should be reduced to “about £25,600”, but Universities UK has argued that this threshold should  be lower to attract the diverse workforce universities need.

“We are concerned that standard salary levels in higher education sectors would no longer be recognised”

If the government wants to introduce a points-based system, it ought to retain the Tier 2 (General) visa for those seeking to work in the UK and have received a job offer, the authors suggested.

Additionally, the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) should be modified in a point-based system to include an overall annual cap and points should be given for characteristics the government want to attract such as priority areas like STEM and creative skills, among other recommendations.

According to Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of UUK, it is “vital the UK remains a world leader in science and research and is open and welcoming to global talent to maximise universities’ positive impact on the UK economy and society” as the country leaves the EU.

“Some of the MAC recommendations are a step in the right direction, recognising the importance of employer demand but concluding the skilled entry route needs reform,” he said.

“While there is welcome recognition that the salary threshold of £30,000 was too high, there should be a further reduction to attract the diverse workforce, including lab technicians and language assistants, who are vital to supporting the success of our universities,” he continued.

“We are also concerned that standard salary levels in higher education sectors would no longer be recognised, meaning it will be harder to attract international talent into key lecturer roles.”

A recent poll showed the British public overwhelmingly believe that immigrants should be welcomed into the country on the strength of their skills and “potential and not be judged on their salary alone”, Jarvis added.

Chair of the UK’s association of modern universities MillionPlus and vice-chancellor of Canterbury Christ Church University, Rama Thirunamachandran, said that the Tier 2 general salary threshold had “been a long-standing issue for universities and businesses across the country”.

“Summer schools which take on staff during peak periods only are particularly concerned”

“Any arbitrary figure creates problems, but the current £30,000 threshold means that the UK is losing out on global talent. The reduction, which MillionPlus argued for in its submission, would be a step in the right direction and we hope the government will take this on board,” Thirunamachandran said in a statement.

However, English UK’s membership director, Huan Japes said that its members are disappointed with the MAC’s minimum salary recommendation.

“It is difficult for language centres to recruit for certain positions, especially in some parts of the UK, and summer schools which take on staff during peak periods only are particularly concerned that they will not be able to keep on hiring from outside the UK as they do now,” he added.

“We understand the government may or may not take on board the MAC’s recommendations; we ask them to take on board our concerns.”

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