Press Release: A World of Talent II: International Social Science Staff across the Higher Education Workforce

13 March 2019

5 March 2019, Tuesday, London: There is no clear STEM / non-STEM divide when it comes to levels of international-origin staff in UK universities. The latest report from the Campaign for Social Sciences ‘A World of Talent II: International Social Science Staff across the Higher Education Workforce provides analysis of all academic staff at UK universities, with a particular focus on the social sciences.  A follow up report to A World of Talent, it broadens our examination of data on global talent at UK universities by also looking at atypical staff (not covered in our previous report) who provide important services to our universities, and who can range from visiting professors and practitioners to course tutors on casual contracts.  Importantly, A World of Talent II confirms the broad trends around international staff that we found in A World of Talent, highlighting that levels of international-origin academic staff are high across many subjects, irrespective of contract types.

Dr Ashley Lenihan, Senior Policy Adviser at the Campaign for Social Science and the author of the report says, “The proposed post-Brexit visa regime will pose a real challenge for UK social science, where the proportions of international-origin staff are high, as they are in STEM. But the biggest challenge of the proposed new rules is perhaps the high proportion of international-origin staff on fixed-term and a-typical contracts. These are staff who hold a variety of roles — research assistants, teaching fellows, lab or other research technicians, and part-time lecturers and tutors.  They fill critical research and teaching functions while providing UK universities with access to a range of skills.  Universities may find it far more difficult to retain and recruit this category of worker in the face of the pending changes to the UK’s immigration system, as they may not meet the salary or sponsorship criteria under the new visa regime.”

A World of Talent II shows there is absolutely no clear divide between STEM and non-STEM subjects when it comes to the importance of global talent and skills. Across all UK universities, the proportion of international-origin staff on permanent academic contracts is the same for the social sciences as it is for STEM (at 27%), and nearly the same for atypical academic contracts. The proportion are higher in STEM when we look at those on fixed-term contracts – but given that almost 1 in 3 social science staff are on fixed-term academic contracts, it is very clear that the retention and future recruitment of such global talent is an important issue for the social sciences too. In fact, if we just look at the research-intensive Russell Group universities, there is actually a higher proportion of international-origin staff on permanent and atypical contracts in the social sciences, than there are in STEM.

Some key messages from A World of Talent II:

  • 35% of staff on atypical academic contracts are of international origin at Russel Group universities
  • There is no clear STEM/non-STEM divide when it comes to levels of international-origin staff in UK universities
  • In 2016/17 37% of all social science staff on open-ended academic contracts in Russell Group universities were of international origin, while it was 32% in STEM
  • In 2016/17 38% of social science staff on atypical academic contracts in Russell Group universities were of international origin, while it was only 34% for STEM
  • The proposed £30,000 annual pay threshold may prove challenging for academics and researches on atypical contracts and fixed term contracts, and these roles often play important roles in teaching and research in UK social sciences
  • The sponsorship requirement does not address academics that may be on atypical contracts with more than one university, or on part-time fixed-term contracts.

For these and many more interesting facts by discipline and region, download the complete report A World of Talent II: International Social Science Staff across the Higher Education Workforce

Download the first report: A World of Talent: International Staff At UK Universities & The Future Migration System

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For further information, interviews, figures or photos contact:

Aarti Basnyat
Communications Manager
Academy of Social Sciences/Campaign for Social Sciences
+44 (0) 20 7682 4663
E: [email protected]

About the Campaign for Social Science:
The Academy of Social Sciences’ Campaign for Social Science was launched to raise the profile of social science in the public, media and Parliament. Its activities include lobbying government, organising events, promoting social sciences in the media and monitoring the health of academia in the UK.