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Policy and funding

IOP response to new Global Talent visa scheme announcement

28 January 2020

The plans will be a boost to immigration and can help the UK to attract the world’s top scientists despite Brexit, says IOP.

Responding to yesterday’s announcement by the UK government that a global fast-track visa scheme aimed at attracting the world’s top scientists, researchers and mathematicians will be introduced on 20 February, Institute of Physics (IOP) head of policy Patrick Cusworth commented: “The IOP warmly welcomes the government’s initiative to encourage scientists and researchers to stay [in] or move to the UK.

“This is an explicit recognition of the contribution of science and research to national economic growth, which will be vital in building and maintaining a prosperous economy following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

“Immigration is crucial to the UK’s science community and to our ability to attract leading scientists from across Europe and the wider world into our world-leading universities and businesses. This is essential in achieving the government’s objective of increasing UK research and development (R&D) to 2.4% of national GDP, addressing the UK’s productivity challenge and building a more prosperous economy.

“The UK can currently collaborate easily with European institutions and researchers and UK students can work and study abroad – which has enabled the UK to punch well above its weight in science and innovation. It is vital that this can continue, so we await further details of the Global Talent visa with interest.

“At present, 44% of science, engineering and technology firms report difficulties in finding recruits with the right skills*. There remains a real need to continue to enable and support people with the right skills and experience to live and work in the UK. Developing a pragmatic means of doing so is therefore a big step in the right direction.”

*Home Office’s shortage occupation list and STEM

75% of roles listed are in STEM however, and 44% of science, engineering and technology firms report difficulties in finding recruits with the right skills. It has also been estimated that failing to meet demand for engineering skills will cost the UK £27bn a year from 2022.