UK Immigration Cap may harm UK Research

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07 October 2010


There is continuing opposition against the UK immigration cap brought in by the David Cameron Conservative Liberal Coalition Government. There are concerns that the annual immigration limit which largely affects applications under the Tier 1 visa and Tier 2 visa scheme will cause serious problems for UK science and industry.

Eight Nobel prize winning scientists in the UK have expressed concerns over the immigration cap in a letter to "The Times". This include two Russian born scientists Professor Andre Geim and Professor Konstantin Novoselov. Another scientist Venkatraman Ramakrishnan who was born in Tamil Nadu and who won the Nobel prize for chemistry also opposes the cap.

The eight Nobel laureates had the following to say in their letter:

" It is a sad reflection of our priorities as a nation if we cannot afford the same recognition for elite scientists and engineers [as Premier League footballers".

"International collaborations underlie 40% of the UK's scientific output, but would become far more difficult if we were to constrict our borders.

"The UK produces nearly 10% of the world's scientific output with only 1% of its population; we punch above our weight because we can engage with excellence wherever it occurs.

"The UK must not isolate itself from the increasingly globalised world of research - British science depends on it."

One of Sir Harry Kroto's researchers has been refused a visa. Sir Harry is another winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and had the following to say to BBC Radio 4's Today programme:

"The UK loses out and in the future we can see the UK can only survive on its intellectual property, rather than as a country that provides things, with countries like India and China providing things more cheaply, so we need to look at that."

"If one looks over the years, one quarter of the Nobel Prizes that came to the UK were won by immigrants from outside. It's probably very unwise to not look very carefully at the scientists, engineers and technologists who could come to this country and give this country the extra support it needs to compete in the future."

The Coalition Government's immigration cap remains highly controversial. The temporary immigration cap means that 24,100 non-EU immigrants will be allowed into the UK under visa categories such as the Tier 1 visa and Tier 2 visa schemes until April 2011 when the permanent immigration cap will be introduced. Many Universities will now only be allowed to bring in a small number of overseas workers.