Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

University Challenge; Top Universities - among Them Newcastle and Durham - Say That Almost a Quarter of Their Academics Are EU Nationals, and They Are Concerned about the Future, as Political Editor JONATHAN WALKER Reveals

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

University Challenge; Top Universities - among Them Newcastle and Durham - Say That Almost a Quarter of Their Academics Are EU Nationals, and They Are Concerned about the Future, as Political Editor JONATHAN WALKER Reveals

Article excerpt

Byline: JONATHAN WALKER

TOP universities including Durham and Newcastle have warned they face a brain drain after Brexit.

They urged the Government to recognise that academics are highly skilled, even though they may not have high salaries.

And they said that EU staff and students currently face "an uncertain future" because it still isn't clear what their status will be after Brexit.

The warning came from the Russell Group, which represents 24 leading UK universities, in a paper submitted to the Commons Home Affairs Committee.

They said 25,000 EU nationals are currently employed by Russell Group universities, and they made up 23% of academics, almost a quarter.

There are also more than 60,000 EU students studying at the universities.

The universities warned: "Introducing visa restrictions for EU nationals in the future would serve as a barrier to prospective staff and students and would increase administration and recruitment costs. "This could threaten the ability of our universities to recruit the skills they need in an efficient and costeffective way."

At the moment, future expected earnings are taken into account when UK Visas and Immigration, a Home Office agency, considers applications for work permits from people outside the European Economic Area.

A partner's salary is also a factor in determining whether a spouse from overseas will be allowed to move to the UK.

But the universities said a future immigration system should recognise that some academics may have specialised skills without being well paid.

It should "acknowledge that earnings thresholds alone are not fit for purpose as a proxy for the level of skill and specialisation necessary to undertake research, teaching and technical support in universities," the Russell Group said.

"Universities are non-for-profit organisations and are subject to various funding constraints.

"They are also often unable to vary the salary offered for particular roles because of nationally agreed pay scales and government pay constraints for publicly funded roles. …

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