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UCU slams government migration plan as 'massive own goal'

5 December 2023

UCU has slammed the government's proposal to raise the earnings threshold for skilled worker visas in the UK. The increase, from £26,200 to £38,700, will affect many university and college staff, especially those early in their careers.

Coupled with proposals to cull the Shortage Occupation List, which contains a number of roles in higher education, the move will be massively detrimental to the sector's ability to recruit talent from across the globe.

UCU General Secretary Jo Grady said: 'This is a massive own goal by an increasingly desperate government. By raising the threshold, ministers are sacrificing the ability of UK universities to attract talent, particularly among the early career researchers who will become the pioneers of the future. Pay for many of our members in higher education is shamefully low, something university employers still refuse to address, and the government's new policy will compound the harm that does. 

'At their current salary levels, many postdoctoral positions will now be closed off to international talent. We are already hearing reports of people in established careers whose visas are coming up for renewal being told that, under these new rules, they won't be able to stay in their jobs. 

'Worse still, the near doubling of the threshold for family visas is a callous move that threatens to tear families apart. It will have a disruptive effect on universities, but even more importantly it is just wrong that people's lives can be turned upside down because ministers feel they have to appease their backbenchers. We need to end the hostile environment, not entrench it, and the government should urgently abandon these damaging plans.'

Last updated: 5 December 2023