Newcastle University has recently discussed changing its policy regarding employment stipulations for international students holding a Tier 4 visa. This new restriction will allow Tier 4 visa students to undertake one contracted part-time job with the University only.
Before this decision was discussed at a recent Education Executive Meeting, Tier 4 visa students had a permit to undertake up to 20 hours of paid employment per week; this could be spread across multiple jobs. These included jobs which are administered and remunerated via a claims form rather than a formal contract.
However, it is believed that unpaid work and volunteering roles could also be included in this restriction, as a number of universities have been caught out by the government. For this reason, Newcastle University believe that these measures are necessary to protect their international students.
“Our student are clearly not happy with this decision, so I will do everything I can to bring about a resolution"
Rowan South, NUSU Education Officer
A Newcastle University spokesperson said: “The University has a duty to protect the Tier 4 (general) students it employs. UK Visas and Immigration has very strict rules about the hours they can work and the consequences for anyone breaching these terms by working more than their permitted hours could be very severe.
“This means we have had to change the way we engage Tier 4 (general) students in work to prevent any accidental breaches occurring. Tier 4 (general) students can still be engaged in Teaching & Demonstrating roles, through Jobs On Campus or under a formal contract of employment but may no longer hold multiple positions. This is for their protection and so that Newcastle University meets its obligations as a Visa Sponsor.
“The changes have been discussed with Newcastle University Students’ Union. If students have any questions they can email firstname.lastname@example.org or they should speak to their School or Institute manager.”
Rowan South, the Students' Union Education Officer also expressed his concern about the implications that this might have on current and future international students. “Our students are clearly not happy with this decision so I will do everything I can to bring about a resolution”, he said.
If the decision had to be taken to further steps, these students, who are a significant percentage in the overall number of students at the University, could feel in a disadvantaged position compared to their fellow students from the UK and EU countries.
According to the University's figures and financial information, 2,228 undergraduate overseas students studied in Newcastle University in the academic year 2016/2017. In addition, 4766 were postgraduate international students.
Timur (Computing Science PGR School Rep) and Olga (Architecture PGT School Rep) who were both present at the Education Executive Meeting expressed their concern about these employment stipulations that will be restricting international students. They both pointed out that “This has the potential to both restrict their opportunities for paid work compared to UK and EU students. And for those wishing to gain experience in teaching or demonstrating, make it more likely that they will need to undertake unpaid or informal work to do so.”
Questions remain whether the University’s recent decision may have an impact on the number of international students that will choose Newcastle for the next academic year.
South also added that he will be speaking directly to the University for more information and further clarification about the issue. He hopes to find a compromise for the international students that do not want to lose the right to undertake the employment they wish to during their time at the University.