President's response to PM's immigration announcement

Following today's announcement [Thursday 8 August] from the Prime Minister, proposing a new fast-track visa route which will help to attract the best scientific researchers, Professor Sir Robert Lechler PMedSci, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said:

“Today’s proposal to reform the UK’s immigration rules in order to maintain our nation as a science superpower is an extremely welcome announcement. Science is an inherently international endeavour and the UK’s excellence in research is underpinned by a multidisciplinary workforce of specialists from all across the globe. This new vision from the Prime Minister indicates that his Government recognises this and I now look forward to seeing how the promising news will be implemented.

“Patients and the public have benefitted hugely from the UK being such an attractive place for talented people to come and work in some of our world-leading universities and laboratories. Almost one third of the academic workforce in UK institutions are overseas nationals. Without this diverse workforce our country would not be the hub of discovery and innovation that we are proud it is. It is absolutely essential that we can continue to attract and retain talented scientists from all over the world.

“Streamlining the visa route for researchers and, importantly, for their families, will dramatically improve an immigration system that is currently both costly and burdensome compared to other leading scientific nations. If we get this right, we can send the message to our international collaborators that the UK welcomes researchers and scientists from across the globe.

“I am also encouraged to see the plan to underwrite the funds of any “in-flight” Horizon 2020 applications in the event that we leave the EU without a deal. However, I remain conscious that if we do exit the EU without a deal, UK researchers would lose access to the European Research Council and other important aspects of European research programmes from the day that we leave the EU until the end of 2020.

“I continue to believe that a no-deal exit poses great risks to UK research and that a continued close relationship to the successor to Horizon 2020 – Horizon Europe – would be the best outcome for science. However, in the event that a no-deal exit transpires, I urge the UK government to follow through on today’s pledge by providing long-term financial commitments to ensure that the UK research sector does not lose out on vital funding.”


Read our previous statements on immigration proposals here.

Read our previous statement on the impact of a no-deal exit on UK medical research here.

To find out more about our work around EU policy, please visit our dedicated page

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