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Institute of Physics response to the proposed fast-track visa route

9 August 2019

Following the Prime Minister’s recent announcement (Thursday 8 August) of a proposed restructuring of immigration rules, Professor Paul Hardaker, Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Physics, commented:

“The future of the UK’s research and innovation base, and therefore its prosperity and productivity, will only come from maintaining our world-leading position in science and engineering.  That’s why the IOP very much welcomes the Prime Minister’s announcement that the Government will work to bring world class scientists to the UK.  This is an important step in ensuring UK universities and businesses continue to innovate and to flourish when the UK exits Europe.”

Professor Hardaker continued:

“Some 13 of the top 20 countries for collaboration with the UK are in Europe, so international scientists working together with our UK community are crucial to our success.  That is especially true in Physics, where, currently, 27% of academics in UK physics departments – whether they are PhD students, post-doctoral researchers or Professors – come from Europe. A further 18% come from other counties outside of the EU. This is something we cannot afford to put at risk.

“The remaining challenge for Government is how we stay connected to European research programmes and facilities which underpin so much of what we do, with almost 15% of European research funding currently coming to the UK.

“If the UK is going to be part of solving the big challenges facing our communities both at home and around the world, we will need to continue to work side-by-side with the very best scientists wherever they come from.

“Science is a global endeavour so it’s right that the UK looks to attract the world’s best scientists to help us compete globally, and we look forward to seeing the details of these proposals.  However, immigration reforms, whilst a key part, are not the whole solution.  So we welcome the very positive proposals from the Prime Minister, but we do also need to make sure the UK remains open to working closely with our European colleagues on research and innovation.”