CaSE has organised a letter (£, or see below), published in today’s Times, which warns that Government proposals to drastically limit the settlement rights of migrants coming into the UK could seriously damage the country’s science and engineering base.
It comes a year after CaSE organised a first letter to the Times, signed by eight Nobel laureates, protesting against the government’s initial proposals for an immigration cap. For more details about CaSE’s work on this issue see here.
The new letter is signed by twenty individuals from across the science and engineering sector, ranging from industry to higher education, and includes two former Presidents of the Royal Society and the current Director of the country’s biggest research charity, the Wellcome Trust.
The letter was accompanied by an article in which The Times quotes CaSE Director Imran Khan as saying:
“When the immigration cap was imposed we had to fight pretty hard to warn the Government of the damage that it could do to science and engineering. To its credit, it eventually listened and changed its plans, but its settlement proposals could be just as harmful. The Government is effectively saying to the world’s top scientists, ‘Well, you can come and work here — but we’ll be kicking you out after five years’.”
“That’s not nearly enough for the kind of long-term research that the UK has built its reputation on, and it will mean that we are not even considered as a venue by the world’s best talent.”
A copy of the letter has been sent to the Home Secretary Theresa May, and the Minister for Immigration Damian Green, clarifying the points raised.
Full text and list of signatories
A year ago this page carried a letter from eight Nobel prize-winning researchers, explaining how curbs on immigration could damage the UK’s science and engineering excellence. The Government listened at the time, but now appears to have forgotten the warning.
The 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. This policy would be a profound mistake, jeopardising our position as a hub for the world’s finest scientists and engineers.
A recent report for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills noted that the UK provides the best ‘bang for buck’ of any G8 nation when it comes to research, while the economic and social benefits are immense and visible everywhere.
This eminence relies on a global outlook. 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 whilst working in British labs.
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.
Let us be clear; the UK needs these people more than they need us. Moreover, if we are trying to improve links with nations such as China and India, the worst possible way to start is by turning their best minds away from our doorstep. The Government must decide how much it values our scientific prosperity.
|Dr Stephen Bold FREng||Managing Director, Sharp Laboratories of Europe Ltd.|
|David Brown||Chief Executive, Institution of Chemical Engineers|
|Mark Downs||Chief Executive, Society of Biology|
|Nigel Gaymond||Chief Executive, Bioindustry Association|
|Professor Ray Hill||President, British Pharmacological Society|
|Professor Sophien Kamoun||Head of the Sainsbury Laboratory|
|Professor Colin Kleanthous||Chair, the Biochemical Society|
|Imran Khan||Director, Campaign for Science and Engineering|
|Sir Peter Knight FRS||President, Institute of Physics|
|Lord May of Oxford OM AC FRS||Former President of the Royal Society, former Government Chief Scientific Adviser|
|David Phillips OBE||President, Royal Society of Chemistry|
|Professor Baron Piot||Director, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine|
|Professor David Price||Vice Provost (Research), UCL|
|Lord Rees of Ludlow OM FRS||Former President of the Royal Society|
|Dr Mike Short||President, the Institution of Engineering and Technology|
|Professor Mike Spyer||President, the Physiological Society|
|Mark Stewart||Human Resources Director, Airbus UK|
|Professor Eric Thomas||President, Universities UK|
|Sir Mark Walport||Director, Wellcome Trust|
|Stephen Whitehead||Chief Executive, Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry|
|Lord Willis of Knaresborough||Chair, Association of Medical Research Charities|