Dave Amor: The impact of UK immigration overhaul on higher education

Amid recent measures reshaping the UK’s immigration policies, including heightened salary requirements and limitations on foreign dependents, Dave Amor, Higher Insights director, discusses its substantial impact on higher education.

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Dave Amor: The impact of UK immigration overhaul on higher education

The United Kingdom has recently rolled out a series of measures designed to curb the influx of foreign dependents and elevate salary requirements for overseas workers and family sponsors in a bid to reshape its immigration landscape. 

This decision aims to achieve the most substantial reduction in net migration ever while addressing perceived abuses within the immigration system. 

Under the proposed changes, 300,000 individuals who entered the UK last year would find themselves ineligible, marking a drastic departure from previous admission policies.

Notably, the Health and Care Worker visa will restrict overseas care workers from bringing dependents, and the earning threshold for overseas workers will rise by nearly 50 percent. The government also aims to prompt businesses to prioritize British talent, eliminate the 20 percent salary discount for shortage occupations, and review the Graduate visa route.

Additionally, the Immigration Health Surcharge will increase to ensure migrants contribute to public services, addressing migration concerns and safeguarding the NHS. Earlier measures to cut student visas will be enforced for courses starting in January 2024.

In an interview with MSM Reporter, Higher Insights Director Dave Amor shared his views on the repercussions of these measures on higher education. 

The removal of dependent rights for international students has caused a significant drop in applicant numbers, raising concerns about the country’s appeal as an international student destination.

The discussion also raised doubts about the effectiveness of the Back to Work Plan in fostering domestic workforce growth, and considerations about how the increased earning threshold may influence international students’ career decisions. 

Amor highlighted challenges in adapting programs to support students in the social care sector, advocating for stronger measures to address non-compliance and worker exploitation.

1. How do you foresee the government’s measures impacting the landscape of higher education in the UK, particularly with the removal of dependent rights for international students?

It’s already having a huge impact. We’ve seen declines in main applicant numbers for India and Nigeria dragging overall UK numbers into decline despite small surges from some countries as they pushed to get to the UK with their dependents before the deadline.

Enroly data for January is showing that declines of over 50% look likely… this will hurt many institutions and roll through to generate more damage over the coming months.

Worst of all, the rhetoric that accompanies the change just makes the UK look unfriendly to international students… at that’s been obvious if you look at media and social media channels in key markets.

2. How might the emphasis on growing the domestic workforce through the Back to Work Plan affect skill development and talent acquisition within the country?

I don’t see this having a great impact. The government has been attempting to do this for some time without success, this is another attempt. The threat of removal of benefits might encourage some to re-engage, but I don’t see this as having large impact even if relatively successful.

3. With the proposed increase in the earning threshold for overseas workers, how could this influence the career prospects and decisions of international students seeking employment post-graduation?

It will make them think hard and recognize that the barrier is high. They might discover the government doesn’t track graduation outcomes for international students (anymore)… and therefore not feel confident about meeting the requirements. It’ll put off many that could meet the requirement as well as those that wouldn’t.

4. How could the significant rise in the Immigration Health Surcharge impact the financial burden on migrants and potentially affect the attractiveness of the UK as a destination for international workers and students?

It’s a big life decision and financial commitment. For many every penny counts and will make students more inclined to look at other destinations, whilst it will further add to the impression that the UK isn’t pro-international students.

5. Considering the changes to the Health and Care Worker visa, particularly affecting the social care sector, how can universities adapt their programs to support international students pursuing careers in these fields?

This is going to be difficult. The UK needs more Health and Care workers but the current government wants to make it harder for the workforce we need to come to the UK. The quality of education in the field remains high and will still have some appeal. The reality is that many who are interested in working in the UK for the long term will not come.

6. How might the reduction in dependent visas, especially for students, impact international students, and what challenges could emerge from this restriction?

Students with families won’t come. Women will be most likely to be negatively impacted as they remain the primary caregivers for children in most of the world. For students who come and leave their families behind, family life will be disrupted and harder.

7. In light of concerns about non-compliance and worker exploitation in the adult social care sector, what measures should be taken to address these issues and safeguard overseas workers?

Stronger legislation and monitoring. More severe penalties for abuse.

8. Regarding the review of the Graduate visa route by the Migration Advisory Committee, what aspects should be considered to ensure the review aligns with the best interests of the UK?

It should start by looking at/collecting data on what is happening to students who have taken the Graduate Route. We’re only just beyond the first two years, but looking at what is happening with those who joined, the route seems the first step to take. 

Understanding their impact on the UK and seeing if there is cause for concern. There’s no evidence of a problem that I’ve seen. 

The review should be in the context of looking at the opportunities offered and the potential benefits for the UK vs. any negatives (should they find them). I’d say keep the review as far away from the politicians as possible.

Jaleen Ramos

Jaleen Ramos

Jaleen Ramos has been a professional journalist for five years now. She has contributed and covered stories for premier Philippine dailies and publications, and has traveled to different parts of the country to capture and tell the most significant stories happening.

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Jaleen Ramos

Jaleen Ramos

Jaleen Ramos has been a professional journalist for five years now. She has contributed and covered stories for premier Philippine dailies and publications, and has traveled to different parts of the country to capture and tell the most significant stories happening.

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