The Times Higher reports new quotas on overseas academic recruitment here. An excerpt:
"[. . .] The coalition government's immigration cap will restrict some universities to hiring fewer than 10 overseas academics this year and may damage the UK's research capacity, critics have said. Since the government announced its interim cap on immigration from non-European Union countries, the UK Border Agency has told universities that it will impose strict quotas for visas granted under Tier 2 of the points-based immigration system, which covers "skilled" workers. The quotas cover recruitment between 19 July this year and 31 March 2011, when a permanent cap is likely to be imposed. For some universities, the quotas were calculated on a 15 per cent reduction from the number of Tier 2 recruits in the corresponding period the previous year.
However, Newcastle University reported that it had been handed a 50 per cent cut. Veryan Johnston, Newcastle's executive director of human resources, said the university was given a quota of 28 staff, based on a figure of 56 the previous year. "We are having to monitor this very carefully and day by day to make sure our heads of faculty and pro vice-chancellors understand the potential impact on their areas," she said. The quotas cover not only visas for new recruits but also renewals for existing staff. Ms Johnston said that this meant institutions "could lose a key researcher at a critical time". [. . .]"
If this is true, then it is very worrying news. At a time where universities seek to recruit the best staff, this is an unwelcome policy change from government. Let us hope this policy is very short lived.