The potential impacts of Brexit on the Scientific Industry

Back in September, our current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, suggested that after Brexit, he wanted the UK to welcome the best and brightest scientists from all over the world.

There was also talk of the Home Office creating a Fast Track Visa route “designed to attract elite researchers and specialists in science, engineering and technology”. Any scheme that makes it easier for talented scientists from overseas to come and work within the UK will form the foundation of a thriving environment for science and engineering.

However, when you take a closer look at the details of this press release, the Government have said that there are a number of options being considered which include; the abolishing of the cap on Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visas and/or increasing the pool of UK research institutes and universities that are able to endorse candidates.

Eliminating the cap on the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa would be welcomed, however, in recent years the number of visa applications hasn’t come close to the current cap of 2000 per year. The most visas granted within a year sits at 528, which were approved in 2018. This data shows that just abolishing the cap won’t achieve the required results, whereas, a possible relaxing of the criteria coupled with increased publicity to make more candidates aware of this route into the UK would increase its uptake.

These new proposals weren’t welcomed by everyone within the scientific industry due to the plans being tied to the UK leaving the EU on what was the deadline of 31st October 2019 even if no deal had been made. This is something that much of the UK research community feel would be an extremely damaging outcome for UK science.

However, with the deadline now having been moved to 31st January 2020 and with the General Election taking place on 12th December 2019, it isn’t clear as to whether these proposals are still being considered in post Brexit plans.

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