Plus - Letter to the Editor

Hard facts about some Lankan academics working in the UK

From this month, laws come into effect in the UK that will make it very difficult for skilled persons of non-European origin to get jobs in that country. By “skilled persons”, we refer to those who have visas under the Highly Skilled Migration Programme, or HSMP.

It is a myth that Sri Lankan academics easily find highly paid jobs outside this country. Britain introduced the HSMP 10 years ago, and hundreds of Sri Lankan academics have applied for jobs over the past decade, some successful, many not successful. Many Sri Lankan academics have not been successful in their HSMP applications.

More important, many Sri Lankan academics in the UK holding the HSMP visa are doing menial jobs, such as working in software shops, McDonald’s outlets, and petrol stations. One such person is a former University department head, now working in Birmingham.

Meanwhile, a senior professor from the same university who is on sabbatical leave is working as a filing clerk, working late night shifts. If this is the only kind of job he can find, why does he persist in staying on in the UK?

I know of a couple of Sri Lankan medics who work as retail distributors while preparing for their Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) exam. (The PLAB test is a requirement for international medical graduates, or IMGs, to show they have the skills and knowledge to practise medicine in the UK.)

Most Sri Lankan academics with teaching jobs in the UK work only a few hours a week. Year after year, they read from the same notes, giving the same old lectures. Not very hard work, to be quite honest. And once in seven years, they get a year’s leave with full pay.

They may have done better than their colleagues at exams, and they may have secured enviable posts as lecturers, while enjoying all the perks that go with the job, but what they give in return is not worth even half of what a secondary school teacher does.

These academics benefited from the free education they received in Sri Lanka. Instead of giving back to this country, they go elsewhere, where life is not easy. They may be “educated”, but they don’t seem very intelligent.

Former Academic, via e-mail

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