The Home Office has admitted that it does not know how many foreign teachers in the UK will have to leave at the end of five years in the UK because of new Tier 2 visa rules. On April 6, 2016, foreign workers from non-European countries were hit with new legislation stipulating that they must be earning £35,000 or more, per year, in order to be eligible for indefinite leave to remain in the UK (also known as permanent residence).
Usually foreign workers who have been in the UK for five years apply for a ‘settlement visa’, and are likely to have applied under the new rules in the past 12 months. However, the Home Office has failed to specify how many foreign teachers and other school personnel are affected by the changes to UK visa legislation.
The government agency claims that the cost to compile the information showing how many foreign educators and school staff face deportation is ‘too expensive.’
Government warned that changing Tier 2 visa rules would be problematic
Following the announcement of the new Tier 2 visa rules some time ago, education chiefs voiced concerns about the impact it would have on UK schools already struggling to find staff. The headteacher at Passmores Academy in Essex, Vic Goddard, said that he was ‘looking at the loss of eight teachers unless he could find the funds to raise salaries.’
In January this year, the UK government’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) warned that, in view of ‘relatively low starting salaries for teachers, it is to be expected that a high number of teaching staff with a Tier 2 visa won’t be able to meet the £35,000 threshold.’
In fact, UK workforce data indicates that 60 percent of secondary school educators, along with 75 percent of primary school and nursery staff, earn less than £40,000 per year. Virtually all teaching assistants earn well below the current salary threshold.
A Freedom of Information request submitted by Schools Week asked for data on the number of teachers, teaching assistants and other support staff whose Tier 2 visa permanent residence application had been refused or had been withdrawn completely because they did not meet the £35,000 salary cap.
However, the Home Office failed to supply the data, stating that ‘the circumstances behind Tier 2 visa refusals cannot be easily extracted from its data. To give a figure would require a manual trawl through every individual case record. The costs for this would be prohibitive.’
The Home Office’s failure to provide the numbers didn’t come as a surprise to the general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Mary Bousted. She said that “the impact of the cap is no doubt ‘significant’ and would reflect badly on the government, which is why they’re reluctant to disclose the details.”
“One of our leaders said that several schools in their consortium couldn’t staff science or modern foreign languages without these teachers. When the average teacher’s salary in England after 10 years is about £30,000, this cap is effectively sending the majority of non-EEA teachers home at a time when they’re needed more than ever”, Bousted said.
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