Debate intensifies over science recruitment post-Brexit

In July 2018 the Science and Technology Committee, appointed by the House of Commons, published a report of recommendations for an immigration system that would minimise disruption to UK science and immigration post-Brexit. A summary of these recommendations and responses are as follows:

Revision of the eligibility criteria for Tier 1 ‘Exceptional Talent’ visa to enlarge the pool of candidates

The Government responded that the number of available Tier 1 places has been doubled to 2000 per year, but will always be small.
Re-instating Tier 1 post-study work visa routes for graduates

The Government responded it will take on board some of the recommendations regarding additional time to look for a job after completing a course and that those with a graduate-level job offer with one of the 27,000 Tier 2 licenced employers may accept the offer.
Removal of the cap on Tier 2 general visas

The Government responded that it would ensure that visa fees remain internationally competitive.
Exemptions for those working in 'research activities'

The Government stated that settlement rules have generally been relaxed around the science and research sector.
Co-creation of a new immigration policy in collaboration with the scientific community

The Government acknowledged the role of the sector and said that it would carefully consider the conclusions of the Migration Advisory Committee and Science and Technology Committee to create a science-friendly migration environment.
Maintenance of funding, regulatory and collaborative cooperation with the EU over scientific areas

The Government responded that it published a White Paper which set out the details of the UK’s future relationship with the EU post-Brexit.

Following this report, a recent survey at the UK’s largest biomedical lab, The Francis Crick Institute, suggests attraction and retention of top scientific talent in the UK could still be problematic post-Brexit. This could cause damage to UK research.

The Francis Crick Institute director, Paul Nurse said:

“This survey reveals the depth of feeling amongst scientists that a hard Brexit will seriously damage UK research, and that the government is not paying enough attention to science in the Brexit negotiations… Science and research matter for the UK’s economic growth, for the nation’s health and quality of life, and for the environment. The overwhelming negativity of scientists towards a hard Brexit should be a wake-up call to the country and the government.”

Nurse and 28 other European Nobel Prize winning scientists have written a letter to UK PM Theresa May and EU President Jean-Claude Juncker, urging the close co-operation between the UK and the EU after Brexit.

Science minister Sam Gyimah has stated on BBC Radio 4 there is a £7bn,

“plan to ensure that, deal or no deal, there will be no cliff-edge for UK science”.,

More information on the Francis Crick Institute survey is available here, on the Science and Technology Committee report here, and the Government’s response to the report here.

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Published on 25. October 2018 in News, News UK