Dyson and Home Office at loggerheads over student immigration rules

Sir James Dyson, founder of engineering firm Dyson, and the Home Office are at loggerheads over the UK’s immigration laws, with Dyson complaining that a change in the law has heightened the country’s shortage of engineering talent.

Mon, 27 Jan 2014

Sir James Dyson, founder of engineering firm Dyson, and the Home Office are at loggerheads over the UK’s immigration laws, with Dyson complaining that a change in the law has heightened the country’s shortage of engineering talent.

Quoted in the Daily Telegraph last week, Dyson criticised a change in the rules made in April 2012, which he claims prevents foreign postgraduate students from outside the European Union from staying in the UK after competing their studies.  

“Only 10% of engineering post-graduates are British. They all get kicked out at the end of their course because [immigration minister] Damian Green refused to give engineers an exception,” said Dyson.

Dyson added that the company’s decision whether to expand in Malaysia and Singapore or in the UK “all depends on whether we can actually find all the engineers we need”.

Dyson’s comments came after the company announced plans to create 3,000 jobs for engineers at its base in Malmesbury in the West County by 2015. As recruiter.co.uk reported recently, there are already fears that the boom in the UK’s car industry is exacerbating existing engineering skills shortages.  

Dyson DC39-MULTIFLOOR

In a statement, the Home Office tells Recruiter: “It is simply not true that foreign postgraduates and graduates get ‘kicked out’ of the UK after their studies. They absolutely can stay, with no limit on numbers, as long as they get a graduate level job paying a graduate level salary. Exactly the sort of role that will be offered by Dyson.

“We changed the rules to stop the widespread abuse of the student system – where low-quality students would take low-skilled jobs just to stay in the country. What we have done instead is build a system that works in the national interest – attracting and retaining talented students and workers to ensure Britain succeeds in the global race.”

However, Dyson sticks to its position, telling Recruiter: “The government should be going out of its way to attract these highly skilled engineers to stay, even incentivising them, so that they can use their skills to develop technology here – for the benefit of our economy. We should be proud that these students choose the UK as their destination of choice.
 
“The rules state that postgraduate and PhD students can be awarded a Tier 4 work permit enabling them to gain work experience full time for one year. So yes, they can stay, but only provided they find employment within a very short timeframe – that is hardly an encouragement to stay. They can only be offered a fixed-term contract rather than a permanent role as they do not have eligibility to work the UK full time.”


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