Scientific excellence under threat due to limit on immigration

As many as 19 research leaders, including Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, and Sir Peter Knight, President, Institute of Physics, have expressed their serious concern about the proposal to cancel the right of immigrants from outside the European Economic Area to gain permanent residency when their visas expire.


As per a report in the Re:locate, in an open letter to The Times, senior scientists have warned government that the UK’s position as an international centre for scientific excellence was under threat from government plans to limit immigration.

The government of late issued offers to classify almost all non-EU economic migrants as ‘guest workers’ and that economic migrants coming from outside the EU to fill skills shortages.

They should be expected to stay no longer than five years, with the exemption of those who earn more than £150,000 per year or who work in the sports sector.

The government claims that this policy initiative will dishearten over-reliance on foreign workers, and will play a role to the wider aim of significantly reducing net migration by the next election.

As per the researchers government is proposing to end the right of migrants to settle in the UK “effectively forcing the vast majority to leave the country after five years.”

They add that this policy would be a thoughtful mistake, put at risk, our position as a hub for the world’s finest scientists and engineers.

The research leaders point out that nearly half of all UK researchers collaborate with overseas colleagues, while migrant scientists such as Andre Geim, Konstantin Novoselov and Venki Ramakrishnan have all won Nobel prizes while working in UK research settings.

The letter concludes with a warning to the UK government “When the best international researchers decide where to work they will consider the prospects for their careers and families.”

“If they cannot be confident of a stay longer than five years — barely long enough to supervise a PhD, let alone a major research programme — then we will be ruled out as a destination. The Government must decide how much it values our scientific prosperity.”


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