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expert reaction to announcement about a new Global Talent visa scheme

The Government has announced a new fast-track UK visa for scientists, mathematicians and researchers, to be launched next month. 


A spokesperson for the University of Cambridge said:

“Today’s Global Talent fast-track visa route announcement demonstrates the Government’s commitment to supporting UK research and science, and sends a clear signal that the UK is open and welcoming to international talent.

“Specific aspects of the Global Talent route are particularly welcome, such as the introduction of a new fast-track route for individual researchers and specialists recruited by the University where their job title was specified within a successful grant application from a recognised funding provider (including, amongst many others, all UKRI funding, the National Academies, Cancer Research UK, Wellcome Trust, Horizon 2020). It is very encouraging to have confirmation that this scheme will apply to all disciplines. The inclusion of specialist technologists within the Global Talent route is also welcome, and is recognition of their crucial role within scientific research teams and their critical intellectual contributions to research. These changes will transform the manner in which we recruit globally.

“The combination of these new measures means that the University of Cambridge and other leading UK universities will be able to recruit top international research teams from across the world, and will continue to host some of the world’s best talent and most cutting-edge and transformational research.

“We hope that these important changes to our immigration rules will be complemented with a strong commitment from Government to seek association to Horizon Europe. This would cement the UK’s ability to protect and enhance its international research capability and performance, promote and facilitate international collaboration and ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of major scientific breakthroughs.”


Prof Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, said:

“This is a welcome and attractive visa route that will help encourage talented researchers and specialists from all over the world, and at all stages of their careers, to choose to work in the UK. It sends out a positive message that the UK is committed to remaining open to overseas science talent who would collaborate with our outstanding home-grown minds. What is good for science is good for everybody, and can help tackle important challenges such as climate change or disease.

“The Government has listened to the research community, and this is an important first step in creating the visa system that we need for attracting global scientific talent – one that is welcoming, faster and more flexible, and takes into account the long-term aspirations of scientists and their families.”


Professor Julia Buckingham, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of Brunel University London, said:

“We share the Prime Minister’s vision to position the UK as a magnet for global science and research talent. The Global Talent visa is a positive step towards this for UK universities. The visa route will help to ensure that universities can attract the brightest scientists and researchers to the UK with minimal barriers.

“Universities are globally connected and this announcement signals that the UK remains open to talent from around the world. Our universities carry out life-changing research and our knowledge base, economy, and wider society will benefit from the international staff we can attract through this visa route.”


Dr Sarah Main, CaSE Executive Director, said:

“The Global Talent visa is a great move to attract talented scientists to the UK from Europe and worldwide, which is positive as science thrives on collaboration and new ideas. We look forward to seeing the details of the new ‘endorsed funder route’ of the visa when it launches next month. I am particularly pleased that this route will include all named team members working on eligible grants, something that CaSE has previously recommended.”

“We now need to make sure the scheme is fully used, which will require effective communication about the visa route to the science community in the UK and globally, to ensure that it makes its mark. Previous visa systems have lacked the profile to be fully utilised.”  

“We will continue to work with the Government as they develop further phases for the Global Talent Visa to ensure it meets the needs of the whole UK science and engineering community.”  

“The Government has also today announced that it will produce a Place Strategy for UK R&D later this year. CaSE has been using its UK-wide membership to build an evidence base for regional R&D investment over the last year and looks forward to working with the Government as they develop a Place Strategy.”   


Hetan Shah, Executive Director of the Royal Statistical Society said;

“We welcome the additional investment in mathematical sciences. Statistics, data science and mathematics underpin much of the UK’s economy and technology. We have just suffered a decade of low productivity growth, and this kind of investment will help to tackle that problem for the future.”


Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, says:

“I am delighted that we have been able to widen an important route for world-leading researchers to come and work in the UK. International talent makes a vital contribution to British engineering, both in academia and in industry, and plays an important role in making the UK an attractive destination for investment. The need for international expertise and collaboration grows ever more important as we look for solutions to the global challenges we face, from sustainable resources for a world population heading for 10 billion people, to implementing the benefits of AI and digital technologies.

“The first step of the new arrangements, which will come into force on 20 February, will allow awardees of a much larger range of UK and international Fellowships to receive fast-track visas through the Academies, while UKRI will administer a route that awards fast-track visas to principals and named team members of research and innovation grants from a range of endorsed funders.”


Dr Beth Thompson, Head of UK/EU Policy at Wellcome, said:

“A world-leading research sector needs a top-notch immigration system to match it, and it’s exciting that the Government recognises this. The new global talent visa represents a big step towards making the immigration system work for research, and we’re looking forward to exploring the details.”


Aisling Burnand MBE CEO of the Association of Medical Research Charities said:  

“Today’s announcement is a very welcome one. To keep the UK at the cutting edge of innovation and research requires the rapid exchange of ideas and expertise from the best and the brightest. 

“We have been asking for a skills-based system for immigration that recognises the need for science and research professionals. We are delighted that the Government has heard us and seen the importance of attracting those with the right skills. We would welcome the opportunity to work with them to ensure an efficient, easy and welcoming system is put in place which will meet present and future needs.”  


Professor Sir Robert Lechler PMedSci, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said:

“I am delighted to hear the Prime Minister deliver on last year’s commitment to create a fast-track visa for scientists. The confirmation of a new Global Talent Visa which will streamline the route for highly skilled researchers and their families into the UK is a welcome step towards ensuring that our home-grown biomedical sciences workforce can recruit and collaborate with worldwide talent to enable discovery and innovation. 
“The Global Talent Visa will allow research and technical staff from around the world to come and work in the UK and, crucially, enable UK-based researchers to recruit international team members from across the world. Promising clinical and biomedical researchers from outside the UK will be able to develop their careers here, and future security is provided for those wishing to stay by giving them a route to permanent settlement after three years.
“These important changes to our immigration rules provide a clear signal to the rest of the world that the UK is open and welcoming to international researchers. Science is a global endeavour and the UK’s excellence in research is underpinned by specialists from all across the globe. We look forward to continuing to work with Government so that the immigration system can evolve to suit the needs of the biomedical and health research community, attracting talented researchers who want to work in the NHS and our life sciences industries, as well as our universities.” 


Professor Sir Mark Walport, UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive,  said:

“Today’s announcements further underline the importance of research and innovation to the future success of the UK and the government’s continued commitment and investment. Working with the government, UK Research and Innovation is ensuring that the UK remains globally leading  in these fields. Our ambition is clear, to create a stronger research and innovation environment that is focussed on supporting talented people and realising the full potential of their work.”

“The new Global Talent Visa, including extensions to the existing fast-track process,  will be welcomed across the community  and will provide further support to our universities and institutions in their international ambition.

“Throughout 2020, UKRI  will be strengthening our strategy, our operations and the systems we use.  We have  made it a priority to ensure these systems and processes  free up researchers and innovators to focus on their work, whilst at the same time supporting us to make the best funding decisions. In doing this, we will be driven by the expertise across our communities.

“We also recognise the great strengths in research, innovation and industry right across the UK and UKRI must continue to play a vital role  in identifying and investing in that excellence wherever it is found.”


Declared interests

The nature of this story means everyone quoted above could be perceived to have a stake in it.  So our policy is not to ask for interests to be declared, instead they are implicit in each person’s affiliation.

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