Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

EU Scholars Might Pay a High Price to Join UK HE Post-Brexit

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

EU Scholars Might Pay a High Price to Join UK HE Post-Brexit

Article excerpt

Rising immigration-related costs and lack of employer support send an unwelcoming message to international staff, says Jason Danely

Like many of my colleagues, I am still reeling from the European Union referendum result, unsure of what it might mean for my university, my students and my own security. Details aside, we can all agree that one effect of the UK's decision to leave the EU will be more barriers for people who wish to work in its higher education system. As an overseas academic myself, I have a sense of what that might mean.

In the years running up to the referendum, the government push to crack down on net migration saw immigration fees for people hired from non-EU countries rise dramatically, from £270 in 2010 to £1,151 per person in 2016 (assuming a General Tier 2 work visa for more than three years, applied for from outside the UK). Not only this but, from April 2015, immigrants from outside the European Economic Area have also had to pay, at the time of application, a health surcharge for the entire length of their visa, amounting to about £200 a year for adults and £150 for children.

This means that if I accepted my job today, it would cost us 54 per cent more than what we paid only two years ago, when the fees were already so high that we could not afford more than three-year visas for my partner and two children (longer-term visas are more expensive).

When I mention these costs to my colleagues, most react with startled dismay, mollifying some of my embarrassment for having stumbled so naively into this situation. It is much less comforting, however, when I get the same reaction from my line manager and university administration. When I approached Oxford Brookes' HR department last October to tell them that my wife and I were expecting another child and to ask about their provision for supporting the costs of immigration, no one seemed to know what I was talking about. Surely, I said, the university must have some sort of provision, given the impact of these outrageous costs on its employees?

But several dead-end enquiries later, my fears were confirmed: the university does not reimburse any immigration fees beyond providing the standard relocation allowance that a UK national would get for moving across town. As for visa renewals, you are completely on your own. More emails and meetings followed. Eventually, I was given the phone number of a lawyer specialising in immigration, who helped us to calculate that, with further expected rises, the cost of visas, health surcharge and settlement for our family of five would amount to more than £15,000 over the next three years. …

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