The British Academy has responded to a call for evidence by the Migration Advisory Committee, commissioned by Government to review the Tier 2 visa route with a view to significantly reducing economic migration to the UK. This is the main route used by UK institutions to recruit non-EEA researchers to the UK.
In a joint Academies' submission, together with the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society, the British Academy underlines that the UK should concentrate on removing unnecessary barriers to the flow of talented people rather than limiting the use of Tier 2, emphasising that the UK's position as a world-leading knowledge economy needs to attract the best of an internationally mobile research workforce. In response to the key issues identified in the review, the Academies' caution that:
- 'Sunsetting' to limit the time that a role could appear on the skills shortage list would be inappropriate. Regular review of the roles would be a more appropriate way to ensure that the UK has the skilled workers it requires.
- Prioritisation of PhD-level positions should be maintained, as salary is not a good indicator of the skill level of researchers.
- Provisions within Tier 2 for post-study work and in-country applications should be preserved.
- A skills levy should not apply to publicly funded research institutions.
- The automatic right of dependents of Tier 2 migrants to work in the UK should not be restricted.
- The Committee should ensure that the debate about immigration recognises the positive contribution made by skilled migrants to sectors crucial to the UK’s future economic success.